||July 27, 2007
Postcards in Perspective
This Heritage Perspective column uses photographs to
support stories almost every week. Many of the photos are old postcards, as
indicated for example by my use of North Bayite John de la Vergne's postcards in
the March article about the Nugget's history. I have been enjoying a remarkable
collection of postcards that are indeed a digital virtual museum of the
Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. The site is www.vintagepostcards.org.
Click on Nipissing History and choose from the list of some 20 communities and
other items. The site has other valuable information at your fingertips.
|| The lobby of the old Queen's Hotel in
North Bay at Fraser and Oak Street that burned. VintagPpostcards.org photo.
I talked to the site's creator/owner Cathy Harned, who is
married to North Bayite R.H. Stewart. They live in the U.S. temporarily in
Cathy's hometown, which makes the site from that distance all the more
"The website really began as a labour of love," she said.
"When we came back to the United States to sell my home here prior to moving
back to Canada, we were injured in an automobile accident. My husband was
homesick for Canada, and I began to write about North Bay postcards as a way to
cheer him up."
Cathy is no amateur, having a master's degree in urban and
regional planning with a concentration in historic preservation; she's also a
certified architectural historian. She has worked at the Smithsonian Institute
in Washington D.C. and other institutions and has experience as a newspaper
reporter and as a freelance writer and photojournalist. One of her interests is
a postcard sales site where a wide variety of postcards are bought and sold.
Her vintage postcard site contains excellent written documentation along with
the postcards and more is being added regularly.
||The old Gospel Hall at Fisher and McIntyre,
North Bay. VintagePostcards.org photo.
Her computer experience comes from extensive work coding
website content, providing search engine optimization to clients and writing a
blog on postcards at www.vintage-postcards.blogspot.com. Cathy is always
looking for more post cards and information on her current cards. I recently
put out a request in a column for information on a postcard of Mattawa priest
Father Duquette. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interest in the website has been high. The history pages
are used to teach students about the history and built environment of Northern
Ontario. The Ontario Heritage Trust borrowed an image of the CPR train station
when it recently documented the building for historic designation.
The Open University of Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom,
has used some of the website's images to teach digital photography to some if
its 180,000 students, while another project is in the works with Metis Nation
headquarters in Ottawa.
Some of the Temagami images were used in a presentation
this spring at the American Association of Geographers' annual meeting in San
Francisco, in a segment documenting the ways in which tourists interacted with
the native population in and around Temagami, and some of the website's pages
are listed in the online edition of the Canadian Encyclopedia. Postcards of the
Empire Hotel's dining rooms were used by the Empire Living Centre during the
recent Doors Open! heritage celebration. The current walking tour put together
by Discovery North Bay highlights the Queen's Hotel and a scarce interior view
of it from the vintage postcards website, seen here.
All of this interest in the site suits Harned just fine.
"My intention with the website is that it be primarily educational," she
commented. "I welcome inquiries from educational institutions and am always
glad to assist and share images when possible. All we ask of educational
institutions and nonprofits is that we be asked in advance regarding image use,
that our watermark be retained and that a link to the website be provided."
Ultimately, she'd like to see the postcard collection and the website pages
donated to an educational institution such as a university, archives or museum.
Cathy is currently looking for a postcard showing the New
Ontario Brewery in North Bay and two Temagami hockey postcards: one of the
outside of the arena and one of the interior with a game in progress. Her
Temagami collection is outstanding.
She also has several mystery postcards she is looking for
information on such as the Rutherglen photo and the old Gospel Hall at Fisher
and McIntyre in North Bay (shown here).
||The Rutherglen photo, location is unknown.
Cathy is making a significant contribution to our local
history which I am sure is appreciated by many. Hopefully she will return to
the area and continue her good work here. Watch for more on her site in future
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