For immediate release
Montréal, March 16, 2014 — Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex, announces the acquisition of a major collection of close to 20,000 postcards focusing exclusively on Montréal, and covering the period from 1871 to 2012. Of these, 7,300 are considered to be modern, produced from 1950 to the present day. Another interesting fact: 1920s-era photographer Harry Sutcliffe created about 450 of the cards. Montréal collector Christian Paquin spent a period of 26 years painstakingly assembling the collection in a diligent and well-documented fashion.
The postcards illustrate scenes of various neighbourhoods, and places of work and leisure. A range of subjects is featured, from hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, hospitals, and scenes of Saint-Jacques Street, to churches and cathedrals, Mount Royal, the Botanical Garden, Bonsecours Market, museums, and sporting and cultural events, to list but a few. The collection provides as much information about the evolution of Montréal postcard production as it does about the history of the city and the way it was represented in various eras, showing the changes that took place in the urban landscape, in the lifestyles of Montrealers, and in their social and cultural practices over more than a century’s time.
The public will get an opportunity to appreciate the value of this acquisition—The Christian Paquin Collection of Montréal Postcards—as the Museum will be cataloguing and digitizing all of the cards. This will allow the Museum to produce a display in 2014, later showcase the cards in temporary exhibitions featuring Montréal collectors, and use them to illustrate various exhibition projects or publications. Cards will also occasionally be posted to Pointe-à-Callière’s social media feeds.
The soul of a collector
A trained historian, Christian Paquin is a Montréal collector whose passion blossomed with the purchase of a first postcard in Beaune, Burgundy, where he came across a card depicting the City of Montréal. He took an interest in the history of postcard production and the rise of this means of communication, while also seeing the great potential of postcards as a teaching and research tool. Over the years, Mr. Paquin went on to assemble this impressive collection, which he chose to give to Pointe-à-Callière, thus ensuring its preservation.
The oldest card in the collection dates back to 1871, and was mailed on November 3 of that year. Printed in Montréal by the British American Bank Note Co. and affixed with a one-cent stamp bearing a portrait of Queen Victoria, the card does not display a visual image, as a law in effect until 1897 prevented the printing of illustrated postcards. However, following the example of French postcards that first began to feature illustrations during the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, and those from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the postmaster changed the law on December 9, 1897.
One of the finest examples of pop-up fan card design was produced by the firm of James Valentine and Sons of Scotland for the Québec market. By sliding the image upwards using a small metal tab, the card opens like a fan to reveal 5 other photos of Dominion Park.
The Montréal courthouse looks great, as illustrated using colour inks, on a postcard from 1905. The image is an accurate representation of the era, showing several horse-drawn carriages, men wearing top hats, and quite a few electrical wires criss-crossing the scene.
One card—a souvenir of the Eucharistic Congress in 1910—has a number of fascinating characteristics for those with a keen interest in the history of illustrated postcards. It is a limited edition card, created as a way of immortalizing a commemorative event. It is also highly sought after due to the rarity of the material used: celluloid.
This collection of postcards is being added to Pointe-à-Callière’s archaeological collection, which includes some 750,000 artefacts, and to its ethno-historical and document collections made up of a variety of objects including rare books, drawings, engravings and stamps, photographs, geographical maps, and early city plans of Montréal.
Pointe-à-Callière is the only major archaeology museum in all of Québec and Canada; its museum complex rises above a concentrated number of national historic and archaeological sites that illustrate major eras in the history of Montréal, Québec, and Canada. It opened in 1992, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Montréal. Pointe-à-Callière’s mission is to raise awareness and foster an appreciation of Montréal’s history, and to forge bonds with regional, national, and international networks concerned with archaeology, history, and urban issues. The Museum is currently working towards the completion of an expansion project, which consists of showcasing some ten heritage and historic sites grouped together under the name Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, a world-class cultural and tourist destination.
Pointe-à-Callière is subsidized by the City of Montréal.