Seasonal Rarities – P.E.I.’s Iceboat Postcards

If there is one commonality between current postcards of Prince Edward Island and those created prior to the Great War it is scarcity of images taken in winter. The postcard collector might be excused if, based on the subject matter of the cards, they though that there were only three seasons on the Island – summer, spring and fall – and very little of the latter two.

Winter scenes are scarce if not rare. Even with the photographic advances with dry-plate negatives, winter photography could be difficult. While winter photos of Prince Edward Island are not common, postcards with winter scenes are even less so. With only a few exceptions those photographs that can be found mainly show ice-bound winter steamers.

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Crossing Northumberland Strait by Ice Boats. Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcard #2675. This images was probably taken close to shore where the ice was pushed by the tide changes up on the Island shores. This card was also published in an uncoloured edition.

As an island in the northern latitudes the winter posed unusual challenges for transportation and the bulk of visitors (and postcard purchasers) never experienced the barrier that the Strait became in winter. From Confederation in 1873 until near the end of the Great War Prince Edward Island’s relations with the Dominion Government seemed to follow a predictable pattern. The Island would complain that the Confederation promise of continuous steam communication was not being met by Ottawa. A new and more powerful steamer built to tackle the ice would be promised and eventually built. The steamer would fail the test posed by Northumberland Strait’s tide-packed ice. The Island would complain. Another steamer would be built and then another and another. Some of the most attractive postcards of the period are shots of these vessels in the icy grip of winter, stuck between Prince Edward Island and the mainland.   An account of the steamer passage in winter can be found on the Sailstrait blog site.

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Ice Boat service from P.E.I. to Mainland. Haszard & Moore postcard. This card more accurately depicts the struggles to wrestle the boats across the uneven ice surface.

At the same time a unique and more interesting mode of transportation was forced on the Island. The nine mile distance between Cape Tormentine in New Brunswick and Cape Traverse on the Island was the shortest passage across the strait although the fast running tidal currents could also create towering ice-jams. In the mid 1880s the ice-boat service which had begun as contracted passage of the mails was improved by the Dominion government following a disaster on the ice which saw passengers and crew marooned on the ice by storm conditions.  As the passage of the strait was seldom a simple stroll across the ice the boats had to contend with open water, slush, slurry, small ice cakes, floes, pans and board ice.  Using a locally-developed design special ice-boats had been developed. The heavy boats had two iron runners on the boat bottom so that the boats could be hauled and pushed across both flat ice pans and wrestled over pressure ridges with the crew linked to the boats by leather straps which allowed them to pull but also served as a primitive safety mechanism when they slipped or fell through the ice. As well the boats had to be seaworthy to cross open water that might exist almost the whole distance one day and disappear the next.  Professional ice-boat crews manned these boats.  However the addition of passenger traffic to the handling of the mails introduced a new element. There was a two tier pricing system. A premium price allowed the passenger to sit in the boat all the way across battling the bitter cold. A lesser price required the passenger to help haul the boat, usually at some considerable risk of getting wet.

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Striking Board Ice, Crossing at the Capes from Prince Edward Island to the Mainland. Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcard #2669. Board ice is the ice which attaches to the shore and is not normally moved by wind and tide. In this image open water can be seen beyond the boats.

To date I have found only three postcard images of the iceboat crossing.  Two are carefully posed photos, quite possibly taken by W.S. Louson and used on Warwick Bros. & Rutter cards printed in Toronto.  The other was printed in Belgium and published under the Haszard & Moore imprint. This is more of an action shot and is a rare image in itself as it shows the small sails which were sometimes used when conditions allowed.

Even after more powerful ice-worthy steamers were developed the ice boats were called on from time to time as the ships did not always battle with the ice successfully.  The service did not end until 1917 when the powerful railcar ferry S.S. Prince Edward Island began service at the Capes. The iceboat postcards soon became images of an obsolete response to the winter isolation of Prince Edward Island.

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Victoria Park in Early Postcards

Visiting naval vessel seen from Victoria Park. Bathing huts can be seen just to the right of the seated figure. R.F. Maddigan postcard.

Charlottetown’s Victoria Park was established in 1875. It was carved from a property on the western side of the city designated as the Governor’s Farm.  When Charlottetown was laid out it had five squares: Queens, Kings, Pownal, Hillsborough and Rochford. By the mid 1800s these were becoming inadequate to the city’s needs. Queens Square was occupied by the market and other public buildings, Pownal Square housed the city jail. A chance to set aside public space on the waterfront was lost when the Imperial government gave up the ordnance grounds at the west end of Water Street. The colonial authorities decided to auction the lots off instead of establishing a park. The possibility of turning over part of the Governor’s Farm for a park was raised in 1869 and was discussed during the negotiations leading to the Island’s entry into Confederation.

Finally in 1875 40 acres constituting the westernmost part of the farm  were handed over to the city. The grant excluded the Prince Edward Battery which was retained for military uses. By 1880 the field nearest the harbour was identified as a cricket ground and one near Brighton Road (now Memorial Field) became a parade ground for the several military units in the city.  Access to the park was from Brighton Road because the proposed roadway extending Kent Street in front of Government House was opposed by various Lieutenant Governors until 1896. The roadway to the Battery was completed a year later and was extended to join Brighton Road in 1899. In 1905 additional land was carved out of the Government House Farm and the Park reached the size it has today.

As the premier recreational space the Park was the subject of many postcards highlighting the natural setting and the activities which took place there. First and foremost it provided a vantage point of the harbour with the open channel to Hillsborough Bay.

Charlottetown Harbour from Victoria Park. This view appears to pre-date the completion of the park roadway. R.F. Maddigan postcard

An extremely popular postcard subject was the view from the Prince Edward Battery (usually misidentified as Fort Edward) back toward the city. A single image was used by a number of publishers and others appeared which were only slight variations of the view.

In the early 1900s the military installation was still very much in use. The main army drill hall and other structures were on the east side of Governor’s Pond. The Battery was used by the artillery for both training and ceremonial uses. The 4th Artillery Regiment was particularly successful in Dominion competition and frequently led the country in the national results.

The new Park Roadway in front of Government House opened the Park to easy access from Kent Street. This image or a slight variation of appear on cards from a half-dozen or more publishers. This is a Haszard and Moore postcard.
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The Prince Edward Battery site continues to be used for ceremonial salutes to this day. Taylor’s Book Store postcard.

The annual Militia camps took place in the park until the Great War and provided an entertainment for visitors and residents of Charlottetown. Militia groups came from across the Island to set up camp in the Park and engaged in drills and competition while under canvas. The patriotism of the Boer War period made membership in the militia a popular form of comradeship and interest in civilian soldiers continued through to the Great War.

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Visitors at Camp Brighton. Carter & Company postcard.
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The horse artillery drawn up on the Park Roadway. The white board fence bordering the Government House grounds can be seen to the east of the encampment. Pugh postcard #42-7.

But military camps were not the only users of the park. Although there were limitations on the use of the park for shows and commercial activities which had a paid admission charge, community groups were frequent users.

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YMCA Camp, Victoria Park. There were close relationships between the military and groups such as the YMCA. The latter organization frequently had a support presence in military camps. Taylor’s Book Store postcard.

The vast majority of the early postcards images of Victoria Park deal with the natural views in the park.  A number of carriage lanes, some still in use as pathways today, had been opened in the predominantly birch forest and the striking groves of white birches served as both subject and background for Charlottetown photographers. W.S. Louson, whose photos were used by the Toronto postcard firm Warwick Bros. & Rutter was particularly enamoured by the park as a photo venue. [click an image to enlarge or begin slide show]

Today Victoria Park continues to be the site of postcard views and increased use of the park had led to more and more structures; fieldhouses, a bandshell, and changing rooms. During the Edwardian era the only buildings were the battery magazine, the tennis pavilion and the keepers house. Now it becoming overbuilt and is harder and harder to pretend, as our ancestors did in the beginning of the 20th century,  that the park represents a bit of the country in the city.

 

 

Haszard & Moore postcards

For several years in the late 19th and early 20th century Haszard and Moore was a landmark in Charlottetown. The printing company and bookstore occupied a prime location on the north side of Grafton Street facing Queen Square, an area called “Sunnyside.” Besides books and magazines the firm handled what were referred to as “notions” and had a stock of toys, gifts and souvenirs. They also did plain and fancy printing and had a number of books to their credit. When the postcard fad hit at the turn of the century Haszard and Moore was well-positioned to extend their stock to cover the new souvenir item. But as a printing firm the company had a significant advantage over their local competitors. They could produce their own cards instead of relying on out-of-province printers such as Warwick & Rutter, McCoy Printing or W.G. MacFarlane.

One of the big differences between early post cards and those produced later is what is called the “undivided back.” In these cards the entire back of the card was devoted to the stamp and the address. No messages were allowed. They had to appear on the face of the card.  If the image occupied the whole face there was no room for correspondence so many of the early publishers left all or a part of the face of the card blank, either by having a smaller image or by dedicating a strip at the bottom of the card for a very short message. In 1902 Great Britain began to allow “divided back” cards on which half of the space could be occupied by the message and  the other half for the address. The move was quickly followed by France and Germany and in December 1903 the Canadian postal regulations were amended to allow for the divided back. It was not authorized in the United States until 1907. This division continues to this day.  However, undivided back cards continued to be published after 1903 and it cannot entirely be relied on for dating. It is not known when the Haszard and Moore cards were published.

Back of a Haszard & Moore card. The image on the address side of the card is a very unusual feature. PARO Accession 3999 item 1

The Haszard and Moore cards appear to be unique in that they also included a second image on the address side of the card. In the case of all the cards I have seen this is a photo of the Colonial Building from the south-east.

The P.E.I. Public Archives and Records Office holds a collection of six un-posted Haszard and Moore cards. This may represent the entire series and I would welcome information about any similar cards.  The cards have several interesting features. The scenes on the cards appear in different formats; an oval for Fairholm and rectangles of differing sizes for the other images. Unlike many card series there are a variety of type faces identifying the several views on the cards. On all of the cards save one the name of the publisher (Haszard and Moore Printers and Stationers, Charlottetown) appears on the lower right face of the card.

On the Haszard and Moore cards there is an additional element. As well as a scenic photograph there are vignettes on the upper right face each card. A wordmark, “Souvenir of Prince Edward Island” is used on the Fairholm and beach scene cards and a version in a different type face on the Post Office card. A stylized crest in green appears on both the Great George Street and Boer memorial card and a blue crest with supporters on the Queen Square card. This introduces an interesting cataloguing dilemma. One large thematic area in postcard collecting is the “patriotic postcard.”  Mike Smith has written the standard text on the subject and he defines “patriotic postcards” as postcards containing one or more of the following attributes: –  a Canadian serviceman, military theme or symbol –  a patriotic verse or slogan –  a prominently displayed Canadian symbol etc. – a Canadian or provincial flag etc. –  a famous Canadian event (e.g. Québec’s tercentenary celebrations) –  a prominent Canadian political figure.  It is probable that not all of these vignettes would fit into the patriotic category and therefore what was clearly published as a single series is artificially divided.  Click to enlarge.

The images themselves are not uncommon and several of them appear on P.E.I. cards from a number of publishers.  A gallery of Haszard and Moore undivided back cards appears below. Click on any card for larger images.

These cards are of high quality but it seems that Haszard and Moore did not continue in the post card publishing business. Their imprint appears on a number of coloured  cards but they appear identical with cards from larger off-Island publishers. Haszard and Moore continued in business until 1912 when they were succeeded by Maritime Stationers at the Grafton Street address.

The lack of publishing information makes attribution difficult for Canadian postcards. The problem is compounded for those publishers and printers from small communities which may have had a very limited selection and small press runs. These Haszard and Moore cards merely lift a small corner of the curtain.

All cards from the P.E.I. Public Archives and Records Office.