In the Land of the Maples

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Bob Teevan

In the Land of the Maples

This card is a recent purchase and was bought with a batch of mainly Scottish topographical cards. This card and another from the same series appealed to my curiosity, but this one has me frustrated. As is often said at Postcard History “every card has a story” but finding this card’s story has been difficult.

The cards were published as part of The Land of the Maple series and from looking for others, it may be that the set could have at least twenty issues. Many sellers suggest that the cards are ‘patriotic’ cards. While it may be that the country’s emblem leads to this belief, but the majority of images are topographical and include buildings and churches. The cards do not shout patriotism to me, although they form a pleasant set of black and white images surrounded by a colorful maple leaf.

The cards have divided backs and all the used examples are postmarked in 1908 or 1909. This example has not been posted. On the address side is a trademark of a maple leaf with the letters A. G. T. featuring in the design. The publisher is unknown.

There is a copyright claim on the face of the card in the top-left corner that reads, “Copyrighted. A. H. Cooper, Toronto.” Even when searching for the name A. H. Cooper, who it may be safe to assume was the photographer, failed to provide information.

You will note the card has the title Figure “8,” Island, Toronto although despite using these same words – and even the word ‘eight’ – in various combinations, I am unable to find any reference to the image. I tried using words such as ‘ride,’ ‘amusement,’ and ‘roller coaster,’ and even then achieved the same level of success – none!

The card has imprints on the address side with the first being Canadian National Exhibition. This inspired a search for references to a figure 8, or roller coaster, having been constructed for the ‘Canadian National Exhibition.’

This could have been a logical step – after all the ‘Flip-Flap’ and other amusements had been constructed in London for the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition , but again I found no newspaper references to any such construction.

I learned that “The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is Canada’s largest annual community event.

Founded in 1879, as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, the CNE has enjoyed a distinguished history as a “showcase for the nation.” It was “the place” where people came to experience the latest innovations in technology and commercial products as well as performances by many of the leading artists of the time. Although the CNE has changed over the years, it continues to be one of Ontario’s great annual traditions.

The CNE is currently one of the ten largest fairs in North America; its audience truly reflects the diversity of Toronto and the region.

Wikipedia chipped in by advising that “the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), also known as The Exhibition or The Ex, is an annual event that takes place at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, during the final 18 days leading up to and including Canadian Labor Day, the first Monday in September.

With 1.5 million visitors each year, the CNE is Canada’s largest annual fair and the sixth largest in North America. The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers, and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation. As Canada has grown as a nation, the CNE has reflected the growth in diversity and innovation, though agriculture and technology remain a large part of the CNE. For many people in the Greater Toronto Area and the surrounding communities, the CNE is an annual family tradition.”

Unlike the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition the CNE is an annual event and perhaps for this reason there are no references to large rides or amusements being specially constructed.

I was disappointed, although I kept plugging away. Eventually I stumbled on an image  showing a roller coaster ride that was titled 1908 Canadian National Exhibition. I was convinced that the image was my Figure “8.” I parked my search for the roller coaster at this point and again looked at the address side of the card.

It has a further imprint, about Patterson’s Butter Scotch. The Best on Earth for Purity and Quality. I did not notice this at first, but I have a liking for postcards featuring adverts. This was a bonus.

Who were ‘Patterson’s Butter Scotch’ who had the bold boast that their product was “The Best on Earth for Purity and Quality?”

Despite this fantastic ad-line I find no newspaper references to it. The phrase ‘Patterson’s Butter Scotch’ fares no better than ‘Figure 8.’ Paterson (one ‘t’) Shortbread is popular in Scotland and can be traced back to 1895 when John & Isabella Paterson founded their bakery in the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen, Scotland, where they sold their home baked goods from a horse-drawn van, but there is no link.

I suspect that ‘Patterson’s Butter Scotch’ was being promoted at the Canadian National Exhibition of either 1908 or 1909 and so ‘Land of the Maple’ cards were purchased and over-printed by Patterson.

I had one final idea. I once did a post featuring a Toronto amusement park ride. It referred to the ‘‘Hurgle Gurgle, Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Island, Ontario” and sure enough, a quick search of Hanlan’s Point images revealed ‘my’ Figure “8” ride. I even found an online image of a postcard featuring this ride and it referred to it as Figure “8.”

Perhaps more digging is required. What an interesting card! It’s been an interesting ride!

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Ups and downs of roller coaster research have educated and entertained. E-ticket glide for this soaring and dedicated journey.

To further your inquiry you may want to look at the toronto public library on line tools. Toronto island that forms the harbour is made up of several islands & still has an amusement park called Centreville, on Centre Island. 100+ years ago there was a baseball stadium on “the island” as well as an attraction where a horse jumped off a high diving board & I’m sure there were postcards of both. Wards island is where people live on “ the island”. I don’t have any of the post cards from “the island” but the Wards Island Facebook page… Read more »

While the maple leaf may not shout patriotism to the author of this piece it certainly does to most Canadians. As a symbol of the country it has a similar role to that of the Oak for England or the the Bald Eagle for Americans and is without a doubt to be described as a “Patriotic” card. For full coverage of the Canadian patriotic cards see Mike Smith’s The Canadian Patriotic & Heraldic Postcard Handbook 1897–1945, Volume 1. According to a February 1907 article in the Canadian Bookseller and Stationer, a trade journal, Toronto publisher A.H. Cooper had already produced… Read more »

Thank you for this helpful additional information. It is much appreciated. I feel that I should explain my reference to patriotism as regards this card. I appear to have mistaken the importance of the maple leaf to Canada and Canadians, and for this I apologise. I am Scottish and consider myself to be patriotic. In Scotland there are many images which appear on cards which make cards ‘Scottish’ with these including whisky, tartan, heather, thistles, etc. The inclusion of the thistle makes the card Scottish although, for me, does not make the card patriotic. I had drawn parallels between the… Read more »

Our definition of “patriotic” is heavily influenced by Mike Smith’s thousand-page guide to Canadian patriotic postcards. Mike includes any card with any type of patriotic symbol, be it a crest, flag, military symbol, beaver, maple leaf or what have you. Mike wrote the book, so he gets to say what’s patriotic, and his philosophy is “the more the merrier”!

The “Land of the Maple” is a well know card series in Canada, and is considered a “patriotic” card by virtue of the maple leaf motif, which is Canada’s national symbol. I dare say that the series extended well beyond 20 cards, as I have come across examples from just about every major Canadian city from the era. The card show the amusement park at Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Island. Beyond the roller coaster is the Maple Leaf baseball stadium. The legendary Babe Ruth hit the first home run of his professional career in the stadium on September 5, 1914, the… Read more »

Thank you for this additional information, which is much appreciated.

I’m sure the Toronto Postcard Club and/or Mike Smith, Canada’s Patriotic postcard expert, would be happy to help in your quest. I think A H Cooper was Alfred Herbert Cooper; he is listed as a publisher in a number of places. He did indeed register some of his postcard series with the Canadian Copyright Register. And he advertised and his “Land of the Maple’ series is mentioned in “Bookseller & Stationer’ a number of times favourably. (Some issues available on Google Books) He said his cards were all made in Canada with union labour. (I feel an article of my… Read more »

Thank you for your comments. I hope I have clarified my error as regards the maple leaf in one of my above comments. I shall watch with interest for your suggested article.

Various publishers’ “Land of the Maple” cards can be seen at

Thank you.

I believe Cooper ended up suing one of the larger publishers that had copied this design. Anyway, thanks for this wonderful article, Bob!

Thank you for this information and your kind comments.

Actually, one of the interesting things about Canada as “the Land of the Maple” is that it really isn’t. The maple that is being referred to, the sugar maple, only grows in eastern Canada. It has always been something of a sore spot in western Canada that we have as our “national symbol” the leaf of a tree that doesn’t exist in half or more of the country. It is nonetheless a wonderful cold-climate tree that is the unique source of maple syrup and whose leaves turn spectacular red and gold colours in the autumn.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Cunningham
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