“Having a swell time . . . “: Vintage Hospital Postcards

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Postmarked 1913.  A cozy looking place.

Hospitals seem a peculiar and dreary subject for postcards.  But back in the day — before routine outpatient procedures and hospitals speedily freeing up beds — time in hospital (as patient or visitor) regularly spanned several days or longer, so penning a brief note to update absent friends or loved ones was probably not so odd.  And what better way to do it than with one of the colored cards conveniently available at the hospital!

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 Postmarked 1945. The note starts out: “Having a swell time.”  Love those roadsters!

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About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!

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About 1910.  Regal digs.  Notice horse and buggy to bottom left.

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 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

Urban Art: Bronze Cows in Toronto

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Art in urban settings is great to bring us out of ourselves and to refresh our minds.  A wonderful example is artist Joe Fafard’s The Pasture, a group of bronze cows posed lazily resting in the bucolic setting of the Toronto-Dominion Centre office park (designed by Mies van der Rohe), is perfect for providing an unexpected feeling of being far away from the nearby hustle and bustle of the Financial District.

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“Woke Up This Morning” on CBC Radio

Although I’ve not posted much about music on O’Canada, exploring music and its many genres is one of my favorite pastimes.  While I’ve been clued in to some great Canadian music through CBC Radio over the years, the diverse programming of CBC Radio One is such that I’ve also discovered from time to time new (for me) American pieces. Such was the case earlier this week as I listened to “As It Happens” , which is hosted by Carol Off and Jeff Douglas.  On that particular evening, the show payed homage to Claude Sitton, a journalist who passed away this week and who covered many of the key events of the early 1960s civil rights movement, by closing out with “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind on Freedom)” performed by The SNCC Freedom Singers.  It’s a powerful song. Video below.

Whack A Canadian

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A weekly treat is reading through the offerings in each new issue of The New Yorker, one of my all-time favorite magazines and one that is so consistently excellent.  Their cartoons are an indispensable hallmark of that magazine’s style and over the years their cartoonists occasionally have focused their good-natured humor at Canadians or Americans’ general (mis)perception of Canada.

In keeping with that tradition, the most recent issue of The New Yorker, which celebrates the publication’s 90th anniversary(!), the above cartoon by P.C. Vey plays on the notion of Canadian politeness.  It’s funny but probably goes a bit too far — yes, Canadians are generally polite but certainly not meek.  Of course, it’s all in good fun and not to be taken too seriously, and, as previous commenters about such cartoons have noted, if you have to have a reputation, that of being overly polite isn’t a bad one to have.

Image Credit: P.C. Vey, The New Yorker

Related posts on O’ Canada:

More American Cartoons on Canada

Another Amusing Take on Canadian Politeness

“You First. I Insist”:  A Canadian Standoff

The Great Canadian Outdoors: Vintage Rockies Postcards

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 Lake Louise & Victoria Glacier — About 1949

It’s safe to say that when many Americans think of Canada they visualize vast expanses of nature and, in particular, the Canadian Rockies.  These vintage postcards — most of which are colored photos — feature scenes of the Rockies in Alberta, spanning the early 1900s up to the early 1960s.

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Athabasca Glacier — About 1960 (Love that funky snow bus!)

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Bow Valley, Banff — About 1950s

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Bow Valley, Showing Golf Course — About 1950s

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Cascade Mountain, Banff — Early 1900s  (This was quite a ride then in a horse drawn carriage.)

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Cascade Mountain, Banff — 1920s

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 Wind Mountain, Alberta — About 1910s

Artist Appreciation: Richard Thomas Davis

Richard Thomas Davis -- 65 Volvo

Richard Thomas Davis, “65 Volvo” (2012-13)

I truly love so many styles of art, but photo-like realism in painting is a style that often leaves me speechless by the skill and patience required of the artist to achieve such exceptional detail and still add that extra emotional touch to a scene that painting brings to the table.   I recently came upon the work of Richard Thomas Davis, an American born artist who is now a Canadian citizen living in Nova Scotia.  Davis’s choice of subject matter is terrific and captures bits and pieces of life in small town Canada.  I particularly like that while his images are nicely composed and perfectly rendered many of them incorporate elements of wear and tear and slight decay, each suggesting the passage and ravages of time and the living of life.

More of his works can be seen at Davis’s website here and at Toronto’s Odon Wagner Gallery and Halifax’s Studio 21 Gallery.

Richard Thomas Davis -- Storm Doors

“Storm Doors” (2010-11)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Red Dot

“Red Dot” (1995)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Hallway

“Hallway” (1994-96)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Cold Front

“Cold Front” (1974-76)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- 4.30

“4:30″ (2010-11)

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 Similar posts on O’Canada:

—  Artist Appreciation:  Andrew Horne

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

—  Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Walker

Welcoming Another Year of Wonder

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Lichen-Covered Rocks and Windblown Pine, Kejimkujik Seaside, Nova Scotia

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

                                                                                                   ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Magical Winterscapes by Group of Seven

A.J. Casson -- Rooftops

A. J. Casson, Rooftops

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As the chill of wintry winds, snow and ice continues, a compilation of Canadian winterscapes by the Group of Seven artists seems in order.  As always, the scenery by these talented artists is captivating!  (Click on image to enlarge)

Similar posts on O’Canada:

→  The Group of Seven’s Landscape Explosion

→  The Very Vital Canadian Group of Painters

Winnipeg’s Cozy and Artful Warming Huts

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Skating on the frozen surface of the Assiniboine River, a popular winter pastime, will work up quite a chill.  Recognizing this, makeshift warming huts have long been used along the river to provide a temporary respite from the cold.  Several years ago (2010), a local art-and-architecture competition was started in Winnipeg to see how the simple warming hut might be creatively rethought.  The result has been an annual showcase of fun and function that does Winnipeg proud, as these images attest!  More about the warming huts can be found at the site for the annual competition.

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The Hole Idea Hut

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Fir Hut

Fir Hut

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The Five-Hole Hut

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Ha(y)ven Hut

Ha(y)ven Hut

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Hygge House Hut

 The Hygge Hut

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Ice Pillows Hut

Ice Pillows Hut

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Red Blanket Hut

Red Blankets Hut

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Rope Pavillion Hut

Rope Pavillion Hut

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Windshield Hut

Windshield Hut

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Image credits:   Warming Huts Competition Site

Let’s Visit Ontario!

Ontario Lakelands

This nifty selection of vintage travel posters do a nice job capturing many of the wonders to be experienced in Ontario.

Bungalow Camps Ontario Vacation Ottawa

Toronto United Air

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

–  Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

–  Magnificent Travel Art of the Canadian Pacific Railway

Janis Woode’s Thought-Provoking Sculptures

J. Woode -- Personal Tornado

Janis Woode Personal Tornado

While reading a recent issue of Arabella magazine I was captivated by the intriguing and thought-provoking sculptures made from steel, wire and other metals created by Salt Spring Island, B.C. artist Janis Woode.  Although some of her works suggest a whimsical element, Woode also manages to convey an array of deep emotions to which I expect many of her viewers can readily relate.  See more of her cleverly crafted art at her website here.

J. Woode -- Cupid

Janis Woode, Cupid

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J. Woode -- Root

Janis Woode, Root

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J. Woode -- Stilted Walker

Janis Woode, Stilted Walker

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J. Woode -- The Musician

Janis Woode, The Musician

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J. Woode -- Boat

Janis Woode, The Boat

(Image Credits: Artist Website)

In Memory of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo & W.O. Patrice Vincent

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Cumberland County Soldiers Memorial, Amherst, N.S.

What a sad and tumultuous past week it’s been for Canada.  South of our shared border our hearts go out in sorrow and sympathy to the country and the families of slain Canadian Forces members Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.   May they rest in peace.

(I had been saving this image to post on Remembrance Day, but now seems as fitting.)

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

High-Level-Bridge,-Edmonton

 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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Victoria-Jubilee-Bridge

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

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