Collecting postcards provides great insight on nation’s history

By Jesse Robitaille

It all started in 1977, when 10 postcard-collecting enthusiasts established the Toronto Postcard Club (TPC).

The club meets monthly in North York, where for almost 40 years its significant influence and contribution has helped Canadian deltiology progress to where it is today. Made up of nearly 300 dedicated members from the world over, the TPC serves the collecting interests of many deltiologists.

And those interests are varied, said TPC President George Sachs, adding that collectors can enjoy both the front and back sides of cards, ranging from topics like geographic areas to industries or animals.

Most importantly, Sachs said, postcards provide an invaluable look into the history of the nation.

“They show us our country as it was growing north and west, becoming a nation and developing farming, logging, mining and manufacturing,” he said.

“They give us an insight into how the railways were built and how immigrants were attracted to this country with promises of rich farmland for homesteading, to our politics and wars, the growth of our towns and cities, our humour, festivals, customs and so much more.”

Sachs said, as with most deltiology clubs, some of the TPC’s older members are now retiring or passing on, but the number of young and committed members continues to grow.

“We, as a group, are committed to encouraging and attracting new members and new younger members as well,” he said.

Sachs himself has been collecting stamps since childhood but took an extended break between his time at university and the early 1990s, after which he resumed the hobby with the North Toronto Stamp Club and the North York Stamp Club.

“With the North Toronto Club, I became interested in covers, postcards and the historical aspects of philately.”

This led him into the world of deltiology – the study and collection of postcards – where he joined the Toronto Postcard Club. It was the postcard’s combination of the cultural history on the front and personal history on the back that entranced Sachs.

“I was fascinated by the fact that the front of the card showed some social history of a bygone era,” said Sachs, “and often the back of the card supplemented that with either an ordinary conversation or a real historical gem of a conversation – and sometimes a real piece of history.”

He said his favourite postcards to collect are from the town of Midland, Ont., and the region near southern Georgian Bay, from the Golden Era between 1900 and 1914. These include postcards by Midland photographer J.W. Bald, whose work provides a complete record of life in rural Ontario in the early 1900s.

Sachs said heading into the future, the TPC will increase its efforts to attract new members while maintaining the high-calibre, educational style of its presentations and meetings.

“Getting more members and guests to our meetings, which have a friendly and collegial atmosphere, and maintaining our annual show at its peak level are other priorities.”

Club meetings are held monthly between September and June, when the TPC breaks to go “postcard shopping.” The first 30 minutes of meetings are typically reserved for enjoying postcard discussions and free coffee, followed by a presentation by a member of the club or a guest speaker on a topic of interest to history buffs and postcard collectors alike. For the June meeting – the last before the TPC summer break – members enjoy a field trip to a local venue that is of deltiological relevance to the club. This year’s field trip is still being planned. Upcoming meetings include March 19 and April 30.

You can find more information on the club at:  W

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