Lord Minto in Canada: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards
Highlighting in vintage postcards the history of towns and townships in the greater Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami areas of Northern Ontario, Canada, including the Nipissing District and portions of the Parry Sound district which are in the “Blue Sky Region.” These Canadian postcards are shown in digital, virtual museum format for educational purposes. If you have images or historical information which you’d like to share with our virtual museum, feel free to do so. To navigate these pages, mouse over the top navigation bar. Drop-down menus will appear of the areas of interest. Click on the thumbnails for larger images. Close the larger image before opening another thumbnail. The occasional duplicates for sale can be found using the search box on the main (home) page of VintagePostcards.org. This is an ongoing project; comments and questions to the webmaster at webmaster - at sign - vintagepostcards.org are welcome.
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Lord Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, fourth Earl of Minto (1845-1914), is remembered in Canadian history for several reasons. As military secretary to Lord Lansdowne (Governor General of Canada from 1883 to 1885), and as Chief of Staff to Major General Frederick Middleton, Minto helped defeat Louis Riel (right) during the Riel Rebellion of 1885, when Métis natives in Saskatchewan tried to establish a sovereign nation. Minto was offered but declined command of the NWMP, returning to England for a period of time. He is shown here to the left in a c. 1898 tobacco advertising card, tastefully embellished with a Union Jack, after becoming Goveror General of Canada. The Earl served as Governor General from 1898-1904.
Below are four real-photo postcards from J. Beagles & Co. of London (also known as J. B. & Co.) of the Minto family. The first two images are of Lord Minto, and were taken by a photographer named Topley. An RPPC of Lady Minto and a charming 1906 image of the Earl and Countess Minto with their children follow, left to right. The children were:
Lady Eileen Nina Evelyn Sibell Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (b. 13 Dec 1884, d. 29 May 1938)
Lady Ruby Florence Mary Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (b. 26 Sep 1886, d. 5 Nov 1961)
Lady Violet Mary Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (b. 28 May 1889, d. 3 Jan 1965)
Victor Gilbert Lariston Garnet Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (5th Earl of Minto) (b. 12 Feb 1891, d. 11 Jan 1975)
Hon. Gavin William Esmond Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (b. 25 Apr 1895, d. 6 Aug 1917)
This vintage postcard is captioned “Dawson in Gala Attire, Arrival of Governor General.” To the left is an arch reading “Welcome to the Earl Minto;” Minto visited Dawson City in August 1900. The arch is topped with a crown and the initials V.R., which stands for “Victoria Regina” (Latin for Victoria the Queen Regnant). Many people throng the streets, and it appears that Dawson gave Minto a big welcome. Storefront names which can be seen include those for the Merchant’s Cafe, the Canadian Bank and the San Francisco Clothing House. A drug store and a sign for “Downtown Land Survey” are also seen. The postcard was published for Smith’s Book Store in Dawson, and was No. 50 in a series. The postcard was written on by Albert Lamontagne of Box 204, Dawson. He never sent it, but mentions his loneliness to a lady named Lena, and even the front of the postcard is inscribed at upper left: “Remember your friend, Albert.”
Lord Minto was well thought of by a lady who wrote to Ottawa asking for his autograph. In reply on 21 February 1902 and on Government House stationery, the Governor General’s Secretary obliged. To the right, Lord and Lady Minto are seen skiing in Canada with some of their children in 1905, in an unknown location. Minto is the fourth person from the left, wearing a Hudson’s Bay Co. coat in the distinctive fur trade point blanket style for which the company is known. His autograph is below.
Lord Minto’s strong interest in preserving the Canadian heritage led to creation of Canada’s National Archives, and he championed the teaching of more history in Canadian schools, national park creation and conservation of natural resources. He advocated purchase of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec and refused to sign an order allowing road construction through the Quebec Citadel’s walls. He supported Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic and Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless telegraphy experiments. He and his wife, Lady Mary Caroline Minto (1858-1940), founded the Minto Skating Club in Ottawa in 1904, which has produced many renowned ice skaters, including Olympic medalists. Lord and Lady Minto are seen to the right in a 1909 vintage postcard, wearing Hudson Bay coats.
Always interested in lacrosse, Lord Minto presented the silver Minto Cup to the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) in 1901 as the senior national championship award. Here’s a scarce 1910 real-photo postcard by noted New Westminster, British Columbia photographer W. T. Cooksley showing the New Westminster lacrosse team, the Salmonbellies, when they successfully defended the Minto Cup in July 1910, beating Montreal 23-9 in New Westminster. This was a two-game, total-point series, with the Salmonbellies winning the first game 10-4 on Saturday, 16 July, and the second game 13-5 the following Saturday, 23 July. Remarkably, the Salmonbellies dominated the Minto Cup senior competition for 21 of the 29 years in which the cup was contested. (Competition was suspended during World War I.) In 1934, the CLA decided that, as of 1937, the cup would be awarded to the national junior men’s champion.
Leaving for England in November 1904, he wrote: “ …our life in Canada is over and it has been a great wrench parting from so many friends and leaving a country which I love…” His dream of returning to Canada to build a home in the Rockies near the Bow River was never realized. The Minto name was memorialized in Canada in the usual manner of naming schools, hospitals and ships after him; the 1909 postcard of a racehorse named “Lord Minto,” seen above, is a somewhat more unusual popular culture tribute to Minto, demonstrating the degree to which his name had become a part of the Canadian collective consciousness.
Following the resignation of Lord Curzon of Kedleston in 1905, Lord Minto was appointed Viceroy and 17th Governor-General of India, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, the first Lord Minto. Lord Minto retired in 1910. While the family was in India, Lady Minto continued the charitable activities for which she was known in Canada, and became very involved in organizing the Indian Nursing Association (INA). To the left is the front of a scarce one-inch medallion made for Lady Minto’s Fete in Calcutta (1907), the purpose of which was to provide funding for the INA. She originally had stamps printed with the heads of Lord and Lady Minto on them. While these were to be offered for sale at the fete, the stamps created an uproar — she had had the temerity to issue stamps not depicting the head of King Edward VII. While she was forced to withdraw the Minto stamps, some escaped and now fetch good money in philatelic circles. Lady Minto’s Fete medallion depicts the Ochterlony Monument on the Maidan in Calcutta (Kolkata), rather than the head of either Lord or Lady Minto.
Hamish Foggie of Scotland clarified my concern regarding the metal looking copper-plated, with a bit of corrosion near the top. He wrote: “This is a copper medallion, or the type of copper that was used in our old pennies; your old cents. It is not plated but has got traces of the finish put on in the making — I think they call this mint bloom in coiny circles. The wee bit of verdigris on the top does lessen significantly with a finger rub but I am not prepared to use any chemicals or harsh abrasives on it as serious coin/medal collectors would have hairy kittens about that.” Far be it from me to induce hairy kittens in numismatists; thank you, Hamish.
Lord Minto is show here in a patriotic real-photo postcard published by the Aristophot Co. of London, during Minto’s tenure as Viceroy of India. After his 1910 retirement, Lord Minto returned to his ancestral home, Minto House (below, left), which was located in Roxburghshire, in the County of Roxburgh, Scotland. This Player's cigarette card shows both the Minto home and the family crest and motto in Latin: “Mildly and firmly.” The Player’s card was No. 139 in the third series of such advertisements issued by John Player & Sons of Nottingham, England (below, right). Minto House was owned by the Eliot family almost continuously over several centuries. Located in one of the most sparsely populated areas of Scotland, the house dated back at least as far as a 16th century tower encased by William Adam — Scotland’s foremost architect of the time — in a house. The Adam work occurred between 1738 and 1743.
From 1809 to 1814, it was enveloped by Archibald Elliott, altered by engineer William Playfair in 1837, and enlarged with a service wing by Robert Lorimer. From 1894 to 1906, Lorimer also laid out stonework terraces to the formal garden. Minto House was eventually leased to the Craigmount Girl’s School in 1952, and sold to Craigmount in 1962. The school closed in 1966, and the present 7th Earl of Minto (then known as Viscount Melgund), outbid others and bought the house back in April 1972. Oddly, there was no interest in maintaining the family’s ancestral home, and it was demolished in 1992. Learn more about this heritage house, and its fate.
Learn more about Lady Minto’s efforts to improve Canadian health care, via the Lady Minto Hospital Fund, on the North Bay page. Below is a real-photo postcard, photographed by Scott of Calashiels, Scotland, showing Lord Minto’s funeral procession in 1914.
For collectors of vintage postcards, old postcards and the antique postcard. Deltiology, the hobby of collecting vintage postcards, is one of the fastest-growing collectibles hobbies. Old postcard collections interest collectors of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera; collectables such as old vintage postcards are used by museums and historians to document what was.