Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Photographs: Early 1900 Summer Fun Tour

Old postcards and photographs provide much detail into the lives of our ancestors which is probably why I like using them for research. My 1st post was   Photographs: Early 1900 Beach Fashions.

This time I've chosen photographs from 1900-1916 to show the variety of activities that people were engaged in during the summer. 

We'll start with a 1900 family picnic on the beach of Lake Superior's North Shore which caught my interest not so much because of what the women wore to such an affair, but how they sat while enjoying it. I wonder why the women are on the ground and the men are on the raised log. And the woman's candid expression is wonderful. 

1900 Schreiber Beach Picnic. Courtesy of the Shreiber Public Library, and OurOntario.ca

Although this next one looks like it was taken on the prairie, it's near Oshawa, east of Toronto, on the north side of Lake Ontario. The white matching dresses and hats scream summer, but are probably part of a wedding entourage. I must admit though, if it weren't for the gals lined up, I'd say whoever runs this refreshment stand could use some marketing skills. 

1900 Refreshment Booth Lakeview Park at Harbour. Courtesy of Oshawa Public Libray, and OurOntario.ca

Near Whitby, Ontario, the Methodist Fresh Air Home camp gave some of Toronto's underprivileged children the opportunity to experience a "summer resort" atmosphere - something they would never have received otherwise. 

1913 Bathing at Heydenshore Park. Courtesy of the Whitby Online Historic Photographs Collection, and OurOntario.ca

1916 Bathing in Lake Ontario  Bathing at Heydenshore Park. Courtesy of the Whitby Online Historic Photographs Collection, and OurOntario.ca

Before we leave Ontario and head west we find this relaxing shot...

Stella Suitgel relaxing at the cottage, Burlington Beach, ca 1903
Courtesy of Hamilton Public Library Local History and Archives, and OurOntario.ca

The province of Manitoba borders Ontario's west side and it was there on on the shore of Lake Winnipeg where I found my first image of a water slide in action. This linen, hand-tinted postcard refers to the large wooden slides as 'chutes'.

1909 The Chutes, Winnipeg Beach, Man. Courtesy of the UofA's Peel Library of Prairie Postcards

Winnipeg Beach is also where I found kids playing with rafts or what we now call, personal flotation devices. The rafts remind me of a toboggan. Does anyone know more about them? What strikes me about this postcard is the number of people milling around. Perhaps they're waiting for boat rides? 

1910 Winnipeg Beach. Courtesy of the UofA's Peel Library of Prairie Postcards

While at Lake Winnipeg we'll take a peek at their Winnipeg Beach Diving competition. From the looks of everyone's clothing, it was mighty cold although Regatta Day was held in August.

c1910 Diving Competition, Regatta Day, Winnipeg Beach. Courtesy of the UofA's Peel Library of Prairie Postcards

We'll leave Manitoba and see what they were doing in Saskatchewan - which happens to be where I live, just an hour from the capital of Regina. 

Back in 1882 when it was decided to put a city where Regina stands today, the seasonal Wascana Creek was the only source of water. However, the area between the downtown business core and the Legislature Buildings contained a large slough. The city drained the slough and dug down and around to create Wascana Lake and the surrounding park. So what you see in the hand-tinted postcard below is all man-made. And we love it! 

1911, A Dip in Wascana Lake, Regina, Saskatchewan. Courtesy of the UofA's Peel Library of Prairie Postcards

Heading Northwest of Regina, we find Regina Beach on the shore of Last Mountain Lake. This was - and still is - one of the major beaches for Regina cottagers. Surrounded by low prairie hills, the sloping shore offered opportunity to keep an eye on things while socializing, although if I'm not mistaken, the lady in the foreground is keeping busy with her knitting. 

1910, Regina Beach Scene, Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. Courtesy of the UofA's Peel Library of Prairie Postcards

Finally, our Summer Fun Tour is taking us out of Saskatchewan and into the province of Alberta where the prairie ends and the Rockies begin. In 1910, automobiles were still a novelty to both people and animals. The description for this hand-tinted postcard doesn't tell the circumstances of how the car ended up in Buffalo Lake, but from the look on the face of the young man in the foreground, he sure was having fun. And those boys in the water are making me smile because if there's 2 things most boys want to play with, it's anything with a wheel and lots of water for splashing. 

1910, Buffalo Lake near Stettler, Alberta. Courtesy of the UofA's Peel Library of Prairie Postcards

Well, I hope you enjoyed the Summer Fun Tour through some of the Canadian provinces. Sometimes it's hard to visualize what society looked like 100 yrs ago, but we can do this with with the aid of old photographs and postcards. More so than what we seen in period magazines which are often 'set up' to show what the editor wants us to see.

With summer waning, my next post will use images to show available activities for courting couples - both on and off the beach - or where one would go to find romance.

Until then...

What's your favorite summer fun activity?


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their 4 kids. She writes cowboy stories set in the Old West, and Edwardian stories set in the East.  Anita Mae's short story, Riding on a Christmas Wish is published in A Christmas Cup of Cheer, Guideposts Books, October 2013. She is honored that Guideposts Books has chosen a second short story, Here We Go A-wassailing for inclusion in the 2014 Christmas Cheer II book set due out this October.   Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita Mae at    http://www.anitamaedraper.com/


  1. Hi Anita, I loved these postcards. Don't you just love the way they dressed at the beach? Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Margaret, I love looking at them, yes, but I don't think I'd want to wear one. I saw a 1910 woolen bathing suit on eBay last night, but it was going so cheap I wonder if it was authentic. I've seen silk ones advertised in period newspapers but always wondered how that worked because a silk dress would be ruined if rained upon or splashed. Or so I thought.

    And you're welcome. :)

  3. I agree with Margaret, I love seeing these old photos. The thing that I noticed in the first postcard is that the men are sitting on the log while all the women are on the ground. I'd never be able to sit that way for very long. Maybe that's why taking walks was so common--they needed to work out the kinks in their legs. :)

    1. Thanks, Vickie. I remember having to sit like that for a couple hours at school assemblies and my legs would fall asleep halfway through. Not being able to get up and walk when the pins and needles hit was torture!

  4. Hi Anita, I LOVE all these photographic glimpses into the past - thanks for sharing. Seeing not only the clothing itself but the way it was worn and the hairstyles and accessories that were worn with them gives a much more vivid image than mere catalog and museum exhibits.

    1. You're welcome, Winnie. I have found these invaluable as well for the same reasons.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  5. Fabulous pictures, thanks for posting, Anita! What a fun post. :)

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