Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by René Hackstetter.
People love to stay connected when home or abroad.
In 1903, Post Offices permitted picture postcards. They were a hit. Early iterations of Instagram or Snap Chat. It was all snail mail and you were “waiting for mail." We take so much for granted. Long trips to distant places - high on the retired boomer generations bucket list. This isn’t about narcissism however, but about souvenirs as memory tools.
You may recall Caesar arriving in Turkey and his, 'Veni, Vidi, Vici?' He came, He saw, He conquered?
Yes, he said: I Came, I Saw and I 'Liked' it.
Instead of just taking home a souvenir, he conquered the country. That is one way of remembering the place.
Humble Christians, when going on pilgrimages, unlike Caesar, brought home relics, shells or images of St.Christopher for their souvenirs. Travel today is less onerous, but with similar objectives. Seek, try to find the sacred, look, take photos, buy postcards, return, hit Print.
Ok, ok, he carved his tours in stone, so no one would forget. We take photos or buy postcards as proof we were there…and make albums.
Those photos of your wife in front of the shrine of Notre Dame? That cast metal Eiffel Tower and fridge magnet?
What happened to the mystery of the cathedral?
We are tourists, not travellers, and could be pilgrims.
Postcards of Georgian Bay might convey messages we cannot see as our attitude to this sacred spot is indifferent. That is not how the world views Georgian Bay. World travellers speak of it with awe. The 30,000 Islands…These images might be streets, islands or, perhaps, shrines.
These are signs for us, mirrors reflecting our musings, our imaginings, our fitful dreams. They are coloured, inscribed, the images conveying our feelings, our families, our friends. What we put at the centre of a life of wonder in these Magic Islands.
Paradises, Promised Lands and Magic Isles ask nothing of us. Invisible and present, they always serve to remind us of a lost Eden.
Like slaves freed from Egyptian bondage, we say, in postcards home, 'Here is the promised land' or 'Having a good time, wish you were here.'
Early views of Canada depicted it as a Paradise. Again, a form of sou -“venir”….literally, “to remember or recollect," whether it is an explorer's description or a Jesuit Relation, they sent back reports…or, today, sent a postcard. When these pilgrims arrived, they were filled with hope of a promised land.
Canadian Pacific Railway brochures and postcards showed it for goodness sakes, it had to be true. :)
René Hackstetter December 29, 2020.