Toronto & Kitchener Postcard Shows a Boon for Collectors

By Mike Smith

     Each winter, there are two great postcard shows held in Ontario – the Toronto Postcard Club’s Annual Show, and Kitchener’s Post Card Memories Show. I’ve been lucky enough to have attended both these events for years, and they’ve played a key role in helping me build my collection. The other important benefit of attending these shows is the knowledge one gains from interacting with fellow collectors and dealers. I’m not sure this applies to everybody, but I can honestly say that I continually learn more from people than I ever do from books or other sources. In this Wayback Times article then, I’m going to share some of the tidbits and treasures picked up at both shows.

Figure 1.

February’s Toronto Postcard Club (TPC) Show was another bonanza for collectors. There were 24 dealers manning 40 tables loaded with postcards and other paper collectibles. At this event, I was pleased to launch a new postcard handbook, The Reuben R. Sallows Picture Postcard Handbook 1900–1914, with my co-author Larry Mohring. With Larry around I was able to slip away from our table from time to time and snoop through some dealer boxes. One of my favourite finds was an Atkinson Bros. (Toronto) card of Sam Bisset (see Figure 1). Bisset was the owner/founder of an important dairy business in Saltford, Ontario, just north of Goderich. In 1896 Bisset’s Dairy was one of the first in Canada to use milk bottles, and in 1910 installed one of Canada’s earliest milking machines (Sharples). His product quality was such that he became a principal supplier to Toronto’s City Dairy (later Borden’s), and to Toronto’s Jewish community during Passover.


Figure 2.

One of the other little gems I picked up at the TPC Show was from Valentine &Sons (Toronto & Montreal) Canadian Homestead Life series (see Figure 2). Because of its stellar images and overall design quality, the 44-card Canadian Homestead Life series is a must in any patriotic postcard collection. And one of the pleasant discoveries Larry Mohring and I made while working on the Reuben Sallows handbook was that each card in the series started life as a Sallows photo!


Figure 3.

The highlight of my day at the TPC Show was the discovery of the postcard shown as Figure 3. The pretty gal on this Valentine & Sons’ product is none other than Flo Sallows, Reuben Sallows’ daughter. Not long into researching Sallows’ life for the new handbook, I discovered that the crafty Goderich photographer repeatedly conscripted his daughter when he needed a female model. Flo Sallows was certainly an excellent choice – she was very attractive and undoubtedly saved her father a bundle on modelling fees.

“Southwest Ontario’s Largest Post Card Expo” is the apt slogan of the Post Card Memories Show, hosted in March for the past six years by the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge Regional Post Card Club. With 41 tables and 20 dealers this time around, this show was the proverbial icing on the cake in Ontario’s winter postcard season. And the cards that turned up were absolutely wonderful. For example, I brought home an unlisted Stedman Bros. novelty card with an appliqué pencil tied with a frilly cord (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

These fancy cards must have been a big seller during the postcard’s golden age (1900–1914) because more and more versions turn up at every show. In addition to tiny pencils, I’ve seen them with metal pins, Edward VII pennies, fancy silk patches and miniature calendars. With all the different background designs, colours and add-ons, building a collection of these little treasures would be quite a challenge, but loads of fun! For the record, I’ve recorded 179 different designs so far.

Figure 5.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better at the Post Card Memories Show, my buddy Larry Mohring dropped one more pearl into my lap – yet another postcard with an image of Flo Sallows (see Figure 5). What makes the card extra special is its story. Although it started out as a Reuben Sallows photo, it was made into a postcard by Danziger & Berman of Hartford, Connecticut, and ultimately mailed within Harbour Grace, Newfoundland! So in this case a photo of Flo Sallows, sitting in a canoe on what is most likely Goderich’s Maitland River, ends up on a local view card mailed in a town over 3,000 km from Goderich. Does this make sense you may ask? Well, if you check the illustration you can see that the card has no caption. Those canny Connecticut publishers thus made sure it could be retailed and mailed from darn near anywhere.

Finally, don’t forget to attend Quebec’s last great postcard show of the season. Le Salon de la carte postale et du vieux papier de Montréal (The Montreal Postcard and Old Paper Show) will be held at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (Mount Royal) on Saturday, 3 June. Please contact me or check the club’s website for details


Figure 1. Sam Bisset, owner of Bisset’s Dairy of Saltford, Ontario is shown on this circa 1906 Atkinson Bros. postcard made from a Reuben Sallows photo.
Figure 2. “Packing Apples” is the caption on this attractive Valentine & Sons postcard from the circa 1908 Canadian Homestead Life Series.
Figure 3. A very attractive Flo Sallows is shown on this circa 1907 Valentine & Sons “A Toronto Snow Shoe Girl” postcard
Figure 4. An circa 1909 Stedman Bros. novelty card with an appliqué pencil and floral background.

Figure 5. This American-made postcard of Flo Sallows sitting in a canoe was posted in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland on March 9, 1914.