Many postal historians find old postcards—both used and unused—to be rather appealing. Postcards were very popular in the early 20th century and went through many technological changes. They can be seen as a kind of social history of their times. Some collectors become fascinated by the photographers and publishers of early cards. Others are more interested in how the cards were treated in the mails. I like the postcards for their images, and I especially appreciate the “real photoviews”—actual photographs developed on card stock with appropriate “postcard” text on the back. The detail on these kinds of cards can be quite astounding, and their subject matter covers just about anything a photographer—amateur or professional; man, woman or child—could point a camera at. Early photoviews, I find, provide an attractive means of illustrating and enhancing postal history displays. Here are a few recent acquisitions.

NW Bullcart

The message reads: “This is the man that mama buys her eggs from.” The card, mailed from New Westminster to Connecticut, is dated 1910. The sign on the cart explains that the animal is a locally owned purebred Jersey.

Port Essington

Sent from Port Essington on the north BC coast to Ontario in 1907. Essington was the region’s main commercial centre at the time, built entirely on raised boardwalks near the mouth of the Skeena River. The town burned down several times and was abandoned by the 1960s.


This unused card shows the post office at the store on Gambier Island, in Howe Sound.

Air Wreck

A Hoffar flying boat crashed into a home on Bute Street, in downtown Vancouver, in September 1918. Amazingly, the pilot survived with only minor injuries. The card was mailed to Winnipeg a few days after the accident; the sender was working right across the street from the wreck site.

Port Simpson

A card sent from Port Simpson to Port Essington in 1907. Port Simpson, founded in the 1830s, was an old Hudson’s Bay trading post and the earliest European settlement on the north BC coast.

NW May Day

May Day at New Westminster’s exhibition grounds. An unused card from the early 1900s.

Horseshoe Bay

Another unused postcard, this one of Horseshoe Bay in the early 1940s.


The House of Comfort, a pioneer hotel in the mining community of Van Anda on Texada Island. The card was mailed to Vancouver in 1911.

Pr Rupert PO

Prince Rupert’s first post office was located in a tent. The board beside the entrance states that “mail for Vancouver by SS Camosun will close at 4 pm on Sunday.” Another sign offers steamship transport from Prince Rupert to Vancouver for $8.50. The card was sent from Rupert to New Westminster in 1908.

NW Parade

A World War One-era military parade on New Westminster’s Columbia Street. The postcard is unused.