Montréal museum unveils 20,000-postcard collection

Pointe-à-Callière, an archaeology and history complex located in Old Montréal, Qué., has acquired what its curators called a “significant collection” of nearly 20,000 postcards focusing on the historic city from 1871-2012.

About 7,300 cards are considered modern, produced after 1950, while another roughly 450 cards were produced by photographer Harry Sutcliffe, who’s well known for his iconic work through the 1920s and ’30s.

“The collection provides as much information about the evolution of postcard production about Montréal as it does about the history of the city and the way it was represented in various eras, showing the changes that took place in the urban landscape, in the lifestyles of Montréalers, and in their social and cultural practices over more than a century’s time,” reads the museum website,, which displays some of the cards. “Montréal neighbourhoods, workplaces and recreational areas as well as landmarks such as Mount-Royal, the Botanical Garden, Bonsecours Market and others are all included in the collection as are street life, hospitals, museums, sporting and cultural events, to name a few.”

Montréal collector Christian Paquin built the collection over more than a quarter century. His collecting passion began with his first postcard purchase in Beaune, Burgundy, where he found an issue depicting Montréal.

“He subsequently became interested in the history of postcard production and the rise of this means of communication, while also seeing the great potential of postcards as a teaching and research tool,” adds the website.

Paquin later gifted the full collection to Pointe-à-Callière “to ensure its preservation,” according to the museum.

The cards have joined the Pointe-à-Callière archaeological collection, which features about 750,000 artifacts, including rare books, drawings, engravings, stamps, photographs, maps and early city plans.

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