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!