Powassan and Trout Creek, Ontario: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards
Welcome to Powassan and Trout Creek, Ontario! This website highlights 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. The 1909 postcard to the left is unusual in that it contains both pink silk and a deer head attachment. This novelty postcard says: “To a Dear Friend. Powassan” Sent to Mr. Hughie Munro of Powassan, the sender wrote: “J. came Wed. morning. Give particulars when I see you. L.” 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.
Please note that while you are certainly welcome to visit the virtual museum as often as you’d like (and we encourage you to do so), these scans are owned by VintagePostcards.org and, as such, they are not to be re-used or re-purposed in any way, for any other reason — including use on another website, on social networking websites, in brochures or print-outs, etc. — without our prior express written permission. Under the terms of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), such use without permission constitutes copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. We hate to have to make that so clear, as we want you to enjoy the museum and we put these images up due to our love of Canada, but the actions of a few have prompted this notice. For further information, please see the footer of this page.
The oldest Powassan image which we have is this front and back illustrated advertisement (left) for the Peerless Coffee / Light of Asia Tea sold by MacPherson, Glassco & Co., a Hamilton, ON wholesale grocer. It’s known as a “will call” card, and bears an RPO (railroad post office) cancel from the N.Bay & S.Ste. Marie M.C./No. 2, having been postmarked on 14 July 1898. It indicates that salesman R. O. Hunter would be calling on the Misses Porter, of the Porter General Store, five days later on 19 July 1898. The card is a one-cent red Maple Leaf postal stationery card, as per Webb’s Postal Stationery Catalogue. A nicely detailed postcard, postmarked in 1909 and seen at top right, shows the Porter General Store. The Porters were a prominent family in Powassan; their members included Dr. James Porter, to whom the 1899 registered letter (bottom right) was sent from Restoule. One of the male Porters also provided mortgages to some individuals, ending up with a considerable amount of area property when mortgages were defaulted upon.
The variety of goods offered for sale by MacPherson provides a fascinating glimpse into merchandise available at late 19th c. Canadian general stores. No doubt, the probable presence of other wholesale grocers would have led to the availability of even more goods in rural areas. This advertising card offers alum; apples (dried and canned); arrowroot; alkali; brooms; blacking; barley (both pearl and pot); bath brick; Borax; blue vitrol; canned goods including peaches, beans, corn, tomatoes, peas, corn beef, chipped beef, lunch meat, lunch tong, salmon, lobster, mackerel, haddies and sardines; cornmeal; currants; coffee; chicory; chocolate; cocoa; candles; copperas; corks; capers; curry powder; cocoanut [sic]; camphor; clothes pins; cream tartar; cords; cordage; plough lines; candlewick; cotton twine; rope halters; cigars; dates; extracts; essences; epsom salts; fish; cod (quintals and boneless); herring (boxed and in barrels); mackerel kegs; trout; whitefish; figs; fluid beef; buckwheat flour; gelatine; glue; hops; ink; indigo; logwood; lamp chimneys; licorice sticks; molasses; matches; mop handles; macaroni; mace; marmalade; mustard; nutmegs; filberts; brazils; shelled almonds; walnuts; oatmeal; rolled oats; olive oil, castor oil; pickles; paper bags; paper (butter, tea, rag and straw); peels; prunes; pails; pearline; split peas; raisins; rosin; rice; syrup; sugars; spices; salt petre; senna; sulphur; snuff; sago (starch); soda (B.C., Sal); seeds including hemp, canary and carraway; salt; soaps; sauces; tobacco; tapioca; tubs; vermicelli; vinegar; wash boards; washing crystals; whisks; whiting; yeast cakes; and 16 types of teas from countries such as China, Ceylon and Japan.
Here’s a scarce real-photo postcard of an unknown World War I soldier in the 18th Mounted Machine Gun Company out of Powassan. Although he never sent the post card, it was intended to go to a W. Pilgrim of Oakville, ON. The soldier wrote: “Fritz [the Germans] cut all the pipes and took all the lead away to throw back at us last summer.” (The lead was used to make bullets.) Since the soldier refers to “last summer,” this narrows the date range for the postcard to 1915-1918. The photograph was probably taken in France.
This scarce c. 1908 real-photo postcard (RPPC) shows the Powassan train station. A sign on the nearest side of the bay indicates that Toronto is 207 miles. Four men are dressed in business suits, while a laborer with a shovel stands to the left. Above the four businessmen is a sign saying: “General Waiting Room,” while a sign above the laborer says “Baggage Room.” This Victorian railway station probably dates to the late 19th century as, by the mid-1880s, the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway — which later became the Grand Trunk Railway and then the Canadian National Railway — had track running to North Bay. This RPPC also serves as a good example of why one doesn’t want to “trim” a postcard. Trimming was typically done in earlier times if there was a perceived flaw in an image; however, it would be more helpful to see the entire photograph.
Schools and Churches
In 1890, the Houses of Refuge Act was passed by the Ontario government. The purpose was to provide a mandatory, province-wide system of relief institutions for the needy and destitute. On the site of the former Queen’s Hotel in Powassan, a House of Refuge opened in 1919. In 1936, George
Ellsmere was superintendent of the Powassan House of Refuge. As was often the case, the House of Refuge became populated with the elderly and in 1965, it became the Parry Sound District Home for the Aged. Soon, that evolved into the Eastholme Home for the Aged. It next served as an Ontario Hospital halfway house. In 1985, it turned into Eide’s Residential Home, a name it carries to this day at its 162 King St. S. location.
We’ve written extensively about the Orangemen here. One of the documented locations of an Orange Lodge was Lodge No. 778; an 1889 roll book from the Powassan lodge is archived at Nipissing University. The Orange Order was replete with symbolism, and that symbolism is seen in a vintage postcard showing downtown Powassan buildings and crowds gathered for the 12th July Parade (the Orange Parade). Some of the Orangemen have already passed by. Careful inspection shows that there are two Orangemen banners being carried by members of the Orange Lodge. While the Toronto publisher’s name is illegible, the post card was mailed on 10 April 1911. Since the Orangemen parade occurs in July, the postcard is from no later than 1910. It was sent by someone named Leyda to Miss Lottie Belleau of Beamsville, Ontario, in the Niagara Peninsula region.
Tall Tale, or Exaggeration, Postcards
Windsor Hotel, Powassan:
No mention of downtown Powassan would be complete without the inclusion of The "New" Windsor Hotel, which was located at the southwest corner of Main and King Sts. It was demolished in February 2010 for redevelopment. Originally, a general store was on the site. It was built in 1887. After changing hands several times, a Mr. Desjardin built the Windsor, perhaps by adding on to the original store. George Purdon was also an early owner of the Windsor.
After several more owners, the building was purchased by Harold and Carol Oswin. After Harold Oswin’s 1996 death, Roger and Rose George bought the building. Making extensive changes, Mr. George offered a restaurant and bar and rooms for rent. The Windsor once again became a popular community watering hole. Mr. George sold the property to a developer, who worked to restore the Windsor; however, plans changed, property on either side of the Windsor was purchased, and the Windsor was demolished to allow for this larger development.
Visit Jamie Toeppner’s website to see Windsor Hotel demolition. Below is a video of the
Trout Creek, Ontario:
The Queen’ Hotel in Trout Creek, which billed itself as a headquarters for deer hunters, was managed by A. Pells at the time that this letter was sent to National Wholesale Men’s Wear, Ltd. of North Bay. Signed by F. W. McLachlan of Commanda, the hotel was ordering a dozen Turkish towels, a pair of riding breeches (size 38), one Mackinaw coat, a suit, woollen shirts and drawers at $13.75 per dozen, and two pairs of overalls.
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.