We love the postcards in this collection because they let us know how tourists viewed and experienced Calgary at the turn of the 20th Century. This postcard, written by two siblings visiting Calgary in 1911, makes it sound like not much has changed over the past 100 years. One described Calgary as “the liveliest town in the Northwest” and reported “a very large amount of building going on.” The second wrote “Lots of business 18 banks.” And – just like today’s visitors – the two had plans to visit Banff. Sound Familiar?
The visitors also used short forms in writing – just like we do in text messages! Since two separate people wrote this postcard, space was really at a premium. The second writer used “mor.” instead of “morning,” and even employed the “@” and “&” symbols! Believe it or not, the “@” symbol predates e-mail addresses by centuries – read about its history on the Smithsonian’s site. Emoticons are also nothing new. Check out this article about what could be the oldest smiley emoticon, dated 1648! If there’s one thing history teaches us, it’s that not much is new!
This poem by Robert Herrick, dated 1648, might have included the oldest documented smiley emoticon. What do you think? Image from The Atlantic.Looking North-East from Grain Exchange, Calgary, Alta., circa 1911. Firefighters Museum of Calgary Collection (94-01-1160).
Dear Mother 6-21-11
We arrived here at 11:30 this a.m. and leave at 6:10 PM. This is the liveliest town in the Northwest. A very large amount of building going on. We are both very tired and will rest at Banff tonight and tomorrow. Love Jack.
Dear Mother. We made a change @ Mcleod @ 4 this mor. & stay here till 6 on for Banff both [supposed] are awfuly [sic] sleepy. Quite a [illegible] cooler here. Lots of business 18 banks. Love to you from us Maurice [supposed].
Mrs Clara Williams
603 North D