Quiet Autumn Sunset, New Brunswick

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Near Sunset, Looking Across the Lubec Narrows, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.”

                                                                                              ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Crisp Maritimes Morning

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Rusted Tiller Wheel, Annapolis Valley, N.S., Along the Bay of Fundy Coast

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

                                                                                       ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Appreciating Each Precious Moment

Butchart Gardens -- Water Leaves

Floating Fall Leaves, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, B.C.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

                                                                                ~ Henry David Thoreau

Early Fall, Kejimkujik Seaside, Nova Scotia

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“Make each step with intention and surrender and you will move forward on your path. Be kind to others.  Honor the mystery and wonder that surrounds us at every moment.”                                                                                                                                              ~ Nicola Barsaleau*

(*Nicola Barsaleau is a talented artist I recently met at an art fair who makes exquisite linocut prints, several of which incorporate wonderfully inspiring words of wisdom such as the above and can be seen on her site here.)

Love These Vintage Neon and Bulb Signs!

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Mixed in among modern urban streetscapes, the look and feel of the rare classic neon and bulb-lit signs are distinctive. I spied these in Toronto and one in New Brunswick (the fabulous sign for Mel’s Tea Room!), which happily stand the test of time.

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Splendid Farm Offerings at the St. Lawrence Market

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Since the early 1800s, the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto has been a traditional marketplace for fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and all manner of other agricultural products.  It’s a colorful and happily bustling scene that has the distinction of being named by National Geographic in 2012 as the world’s best  market.  Even if a matter of opinion, that’s high praise!  Snapping these shots between bites of a warm croissant graced with some local honey provided a relaxing hour’s idyll.

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

⇒ Abundance at the Saint John City Market

⇒ Kensington Market, Toronto: Fresh, Funky and Fun

⇒ Early 1900s Town Markets

Robert McAffee — Artist to Appreciate

R. McAffee -- The Foot of the Falls

Robert McAffee, The Foot of the Falls

Toronto-based Robert McAffee’s contemporary landscape art is striking in many ways.  His lush scenes of the Canadian wilderness pay homage to the influences of several Group of Seven artists — notably Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson, A.J. Casson and Arthur Lismer.   McAffee seems to have internalized aspects of each with a resulting style that is wonderfully distinct from any one of them.  More about McAffee’s beautiful artwork and links to galleries that carry his pieces can be found at his website here.

R. McAffee -- The Three Sisters

Robert McAffee, The Three Sisters

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R. McAffee, Fishing By the Rocks

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R. McAffee -- North Shore Twisty

Robert McAffee, North Shore Twisty

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R. McAffee -- Waterfall

Robert McAffee, Waterfall

(Image credits:  Artist’s website)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

> David Silcox’s Exquisite Book on The Group of Seven

> The Group of Seven’s Landscape Explosion

> Amazing Landscape Artistry of Philip Buytendorp, Jennifer Woodburn and Steve Coffey

 

 

Broke-Down Dodge Truck

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Situated along one of the wide pathways in Toronto’s Distillery District, this tired old Dodge truck  from the 1940s exudes character with its highly stylized chrome grill cover brightly shining against varied shades of surrounding rust.

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Ossington Avenue Graffiti

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Crisscrossing the streets of Toronto, it struck me that I had to look harder there than in Montreal to find graffiti or street art.  But what’s to be found in Toronto is every bit as varied and creatively expressed, as shown by these two examples, both in the Ossington Avenue area.  I’ll post more later.

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Let’s Play!: Gaddabout Vintage Part II

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Following up on a recent post about Toronto’s Gaddabout Vintage, here’s another installment of wonderful baubles — this time toys and the like — that can be found in this perfect little shop with something for every taste (and age).

 

Bridges As Depicted on Vintage Postcards

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 Steam train crossing as onlookers leisurely enjoy the vista.  Postmarked 1921. 

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Even with sophisticated modern equipment, bridges are marvels of engineering skill.  Bridges from earlier periods, such as the array of Canadian ones featured on these vintage postcards, built without the benefit of such conveniences and often at the cost of many lives and injuries, are that much more impressive!

Heading into Canada from Detroit.  About 1940s, when cars featured many curves.

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Love the simplicity of this image and the partial reflection. Postmarked 1906.

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Similar posts:

•  Beautiful Old Railway Bridge, Near Clementsport, N.S.

•  Canada-U.S. Friendship Postcard and Stamps

•  Vintage Quebec:  Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

Neighborly Toronto!

The mosaic or melting pot, as you prefer, that is Toronto is notably defined by its many distinct neighborhoods.  By the time I realized I was working on a theme with these signage shots I had already overlooked about a dozen or so too many feet-miles earlier to readily retrace my steps.

 

An A++ for Toronto’s Gadabout Vintage

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While spending a late morning in Toronto’s very hip Leslieville neighborhood I happened upon Gadabout, a fantastic vintage shop showcasing all manner of things from bygone eras.  The store’s very friendly proprietor, Victoria Dinnick, was cheerily helpful and wonderfully gracious in allowing my impromptu photography in her jam-packed two-story shop.  Equally as impressive as Gadabout’s extensive offerings of vintage items are the mad and clever organizational skills on display.  For instance,  numerous rustic cabinets and drawers are carefully labeled to hint at the nifty contents tucked within just waiting for the curious.   (In one such drawer I found the heart-shaped box pictured below, with which I later happily surprised my sweetie.)

I plan to share several categories of photographs — including clothing, housewares, figurines and toys — from this neat little shop in future posts and these shots are just a sampling.  More on Gadabout can be found at its official site here (or stop in over on Queen Street East!).

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Creativity Afoot!: Toronto’s Varied Manhole Covers

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A while back I posted a collection of Quebec City manhole covers as an offbeat photo subject.   From a recent trip to the wonderful urban melting pot that is Toronto, here’s another assortment of these often overlooked cast iron street fixtures.  Having encountered at least 25 variations, I’m intrigued by the subtle expressiveness reflected in these compact circular spaces.

The Orenda and the Constant of Change

 

The Orenda

Oh, that bittersweet feeling of finishing a good book that not long before was a welcome and constant companion!   So it is with my having just finished Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda, a gripping epic set around the mid-1600s during the time of first contact between First Nations people and Europeans in what would become Canada.   The Wendat, or Huron, people, who are one of the principal subjects of this book, believed that each of us and every thing is endowed with an “orenda” or life force, and, so it is, more broadly, with cultures.

Not surprisingly, The Orenda was the top choice in the 2014 Canada Reads competition and good reviews abound for this riveting novel (for instance here on GoodReads).  So, rather than pen another, below is a brief excerpt that encapsulates one of the deep philosophical themes underlying the drama that unfolds within its pages. Throughout my reading of Boyden’s poetic work my thoughts continually dwelled on how this snapshot of a not-too-distant earlier time aptly reflects the concepts found in Buddhism, Hinduism and some other spiritual traditions  of samsara (the cycle of birth, death and re-creation), change and suffering, each of which are constants in our world and in the clash of civilizations throughout history.

“Success is measured in different ways.  The success of the hunt.  The success of the harvest.  For some, the success of harvesting souls.  We watched all of this, fascinated and frightened.  Yes, we saw all that happeed and, yes, we sometimes smiled, but more often we filled with fret.  The world must change, though.  This is no secret.  Things cannot stay the same for long.  With each baby girl born into her longhouse and her clan, with each old man’s death feast and burial in the ossuary, new worlds are built as old ones fall apart.  And sometimes, this change we speak of happens right under our noses, in tiny increments, without our noticing.  By then, though, oh, by then it’s simply too late.

“Yes, the crows continued to caw as crows are prone to do, and after a while we got used to their voices even when they berated us for how we chose to live.  Some of us allowed them their cackling because we found it entertaining, others because we believed our only choice was to learn how to caw ourselves.  And still others kept them close for the worldly treasures their masters promised.

“It’s unfair, though, to blame only the crows, yes?  It’s our obligation to accept our responsibility in the whole affair.  And so we watched as the adventure unfolded, and we prayed to Aataentsic, Sky Woman, who sits by the fire right beside us, to intervene if what we believed was coming indeed coalesced.  But Aataentsic only need remind us that humans, in all their many forms, are an unruly bunch, prone to fits of great generosity and even greater meting out of pain.”

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Canada-U.S. Friendship Postcard and Stamps

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While bridges literally connect places, they also serve as a wonderful metaphor for connectedness between people and cultures.  I have a collection of old postcards depicting various Canadian bridges that I plan to post shortly.  Of these — especially during this week that includes the Canada Day and Independence Day holidays — the one that I feel best displays the connectedness idea is this postcard from around 1959 of the Thousand Islands International Bridge between southern Ontario and upstate New York.

The original holder of this card added a nice touch by including three very appropriate postage stamps to the front: the 4¢ Canadian and 5¢ American joint-issue stamps from 1959  marking that year’s opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and an older 1948 U.S. 3¢ Century of Friendship stamp, which fittingly shows a bridge between the two countries over the Niagara River (first spanned in 1848; additional background can be found here).

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

Cool Little Squares:  Vintage Canadian Postage Stamps

Ever Bustling Early 20th Century Toronto

Vintage Quebec:  Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

 

Artist Appreciation: Andrew Horne

A, Horne, Pegasus Unicorn2

 Andrew Horne, Pegasus Unicorn

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The serendipity afforded by the Web still amazes me at times and I love it when it allows me to stumble upon something of pure goodness, as I recently did when I came across the fantastically hip visual art of Toronto-based artist, Andrew Horne.  His “typographic paintings”, in particular, are excellent.  Most of these vivid pieces play around with classic signage and exhibit elements of studied photo-realism, pop-art irony and downright aesthetic gorgeousness.  Above and below is a sampling of Horne’s clever work, more of which can be found at his artist website here.

(Horne also has an entrepreneurial streak, which he channels by operating the very cool Flying Pony Gallery and Cafe in the Little India area of Toronto.)

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A. Horne, Victory Bar2

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A. Horne, Renee's Salon Of Beauty2

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A. Horne, 419 Salutations

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Other similar posts on O’Canada:

•  Artist to Appreciate:  Michael E. Glover

•  Sean Yelland’s “Distant” and “Stop Everything”

•  Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Walker

•  Montreal As Muse for Jeremy Price

Cheeky Humor of Vintage Canadian Tire Catalogues

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Wherever you go in Canada, you’re probably not far from a Canadian Tire location, a retailer that carries auto parts, sporting goods, hardware and some appliances, clothing and all manner of other goods.  Canadian Tire is so popular it even has its own pseudo-currency — Canadian Tire Dollars — that are both usable and collectible.  Many of the retailer’s older advertisements featured humorous bits — some slightly suggestive — as illustrated by these Spring and Summer catalogs across the years. (I’ll post later some others from Fall and Winter editions of the C.T. catalogs.)

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Simple Beauty in Stanley Park

Blades of Grass, Stanley Park

Along the Seawall, Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

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“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”
                                                                                  ~ Walt Whitman

Ever-Bustling Early 20th Century Toronto

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No Postmark– Around 1920s

The cityscape of Toronto, with its many tall buildings adorned with fine architectural detail and its bustling street-level activity, is most akin to what Americans encounter in the busy cities of New York and Chicago.  These early 20th century postcards highlight the magnitude of Toronto even then.  The people and vintage vehicles in these tinted images add interest and help define scale.

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No Postmark — Around 1920s

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Postmarked 1910

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 Postmarked 1918

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Postmarked 1939

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Pam Hall’s “Apron Diaries”

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Aprons in the Wind, Port Rexton, Newfoundland, From Pam Hall’s “Apron Diaries”

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Pam Hall is among the highly imaginative artists showcased at a current exhibition (through June 1) of contemporary art from the rugged province of Newfoundland at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario.

That exhibition led me to Hall’s  “Apron Diaries”, a series of  installation works around the Trinity and Bonavista areas of Newfoundland in which she displays collections of aprons at worksites (such as upon fish flakes for drying salted cod or hanging at a local bakery or at a fisheries plant) as a celebration of the often unsung labor of women.   Images of wind-fluttered aprons affixed to weathered fish flakes are particularly colorful and moving (literally) tributes to women’s essential work roles in their communities. Pam Hall, Apron Diaries 2

Aprons on a Fish Flake, From Pam Hall’s “Apron Diaries”

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Aprons Festooned at a Fisheries Plant, From Pam Hall’s “Apron Diaries”

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Baking Amidst Aprons, From Pam Hall’s “Apron Diaries”

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More Colorful Aprons on a Fish Flake, From Pam Hall’s “Apron Diaries”

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More about Hall , her siteworks and other art can be found at her website here.

(Image Credits:  Pam Hall)

Old Maps and Their Hidden Stories

Nova Canadae 1693

Nova Canadae (1693)

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Good historic maps combined science and art to guide its users through its subject geography, with the best such maps igniting the imagination about the many backstories underpinning its cartographical offerings. Some of the oldest maps of North America include parts of Canada, which then featured place names such Terra Nova (now Newfoundland), Nouvelle France (most of what is now Eastern Canada), and Acadie (now Nova Scotia).  The following collection showcases some interesting old maps of Canada I’ve come across.

Related Posts on O’Canada:

1933 Quebec Tourist Road Map

Mother’s Day Homage: The Wilcox Family Gravestones

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 Base of Gravestone of Susan Wilcox (1834-1918), “Mother”

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The sorrows of motherhood and the difficulty of raising children safely to adulthood more than a century ago were poignantly brought to mind by a grouping of gravestones I happened upon last Fall in the cemetery of the old Pembroke Chapel (originally Methodist and later a United Church) in Pembroke, Nova Scotia.

Situated beside the gravestones for Susan Wilcox (1834-1918) — prominently marked “Mother” — and her husband, Nathan (1827 -1899), are markers for five of their children, each of whom predeceased their parents:  Cyrus, who it’s noted “Drowned At Sea”, aged 27 years, 1887;  Norman F., aged 2 yrs. 7 mos., 1861; Annie E., aged 13 mos., 1871; Frederick W., aged 1 yr., 1873; and Cora M., aged 1 day, 1877.

My curiosity prompted a search of old genealogical records here, which revealed that Susan and Nathan Wilcox had a total of 11 children (born between 1859 to 1880) — quite a brood!  Families were larger then partly because additional helping hands were needed and life was understood to be more precarious.   To lose a child is an unbearable thought for any parent and to have five leave this world before either parent sounds utterly tragic.  Even though they had six children that survived them and considering that many things about life being very tough may have been taken in stride back then, I imagine that this mother and father must have endured an immense measure of grief.

Thus, this homage to motherhood and Mother’s Day and a reminder to be thankful for family, friends and other loved ones, as well as to treasure each of our precious days (on Mother’s Day and beyond).

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Gravestones for Nathan and Susan Wilcox Family, Pembroke, Nova Scotia

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 Markers of Norman F., Annie E., Frederick W. and Cora M. Wilcox

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 Markers of Cyrus Wilcox and his mother, Susan Wilcox

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Old Pembroke Chapel, Pembroke, Nova Scotia

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

* Saint John’s Transcendent Old Loyalist Burial Grounds

* Halifax’s Beautiful Old Burying Ground

* Canada’s Oldest Regular Cemetery:  Garrison Cemetery, Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Vintage Quebec: Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

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A Dog Cart in Quebec (late 1940s/early 1950s)

Much of Quebec has long had a rural character.  As shown in these vintage postcards, the province’s resourceful people would routinely enlist their animals — even dogs! — in the daily chores.

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Ox Cart in Rural Quebec (late 1940s/early 1950s)

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Sleigh in Winter in Montreal (postmarked Apr. 3, 1911) — Note on card reads in part: “Dear Father,  This is what they are doing way up here in April.   It thaws very little even yet.  .  .  .  With love, H.K.I.”

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Another Ox Cart in Rural Quebec (late 1940s/early 1950s)

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

* When Motels Were Newer and Grander

* Early 1900s Town Markets

* Moonlit Views of Yesteryear Canada

* Pastoral Splendor on the Ile de Orleans

 

Artist to Appreciate: Christopher Walker

Christpher Walker -- Devotion

Christopher Walker, Devotion (2008)

Christopher Walker is a Canadian contemporary realist painter whose subject matter reflects a distinct sense of the grand and the awe-inspiring as well as his wide ranging travels throughout many remote areas of Canada.  His style is evocative of the work of Alex Colville and Andrew Wyeth, among others.  Walker’s artistry is truly stunning and beautiful!

Christopher Walker -- Acceptance

Christopher Walker, Acceptance (1993)

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Christopher Walker -- Canadiana

Christopher Walker, Canadiana (2013)

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Christopher Walker -- Fortitude

Christopher Walker, Fortitude (2008)

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Christopher Walker -- Interface

Christopher Walker, Interface (2007)

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Christopher Walker -- Patience

Christopher Walker, Patience (2009)

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Christopher Walker -- Transient

 

 Christopher Walker, Transient (2007)

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More of Walker’s gorgeous work can be seen at his website and at the White Rock Gallery site.

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

In Memory of Alex Colville

Artist to Appreciate:  Mary Pratt

Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Pratt

Sean Yelland’s “Distant” and “Stop Everything”

Artist to Appreciate: Michael E. Glover

Low Tide on the Moose River, Clementsport, Nova Scotia

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 

                                                                                                              ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beautiful Brisk Day on the Lake

 

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Kejimkujik Lake, Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia

“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”  

                                                                    ~e.e. cummings

Gentle Waves Near Capstick, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

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“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”

                                                                                       ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Fort Amherst and The Narrows, St. John’s, Newfoundland

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“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in,

where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” 

                                                                                          ~ John Muir

When Motels Were Newer and Grander

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Lovely watercolor effect, simple signage and lines, very retro!

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From the 1920s to the early 1960s, the automobile led the way to leisurely road trips and the chance for a quick getaway down newly paved  highways across Canada and the U.S.  The cozy roadside motel filled the need  for an affordable, convenient place for the weary driver and family to kick back and relax in relative luxury with then modern conveniences (such as showers in each room, radio, TV and Hi-Fi!), as these vintage postcards attest.

Early 1900s Town Markets

These colored photo postcards from the early 1900s highlight the importance of town markets as hubs of community activity.  Lots of horses and wagons, ladies in long dresses and men in dark hats and not an automobile in sight.

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Postmarked October 6, 1910, Reads: “Dear Cousin, I have not received any letters from you, nor from Oscar. Hope you will write to the above address and by the time I return here, there will be many letters.  Kind Love, Edgar”

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No postmark, but likely around 1910; No note

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Postmarked September 8, 1909; No note

 Similar posts:

Moonlit Views of Yesteryear Canada

Vintage Postcards: Canadian Churches

 ♦ Whimsical Wednesday: Vintage 7 Day Kisses

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