Travelling snapshots

September 2019

Earlier this summer, my husband and I visited with some family members who had recently moved to a beautiful spot on Lake Superior. Both had relocated to Thunder Bay as young adults, but now call it home.

A few months ago, a friend of theirs from Ottawa visited and gave them a gift that she had picked up at a used book sale at the Boston Public Library. Knowing of their interest in local history, she had purchased for them a package of “12 Photo Snapshots of Fort William, Ontario”. The black and white snapshots, whose package is emblazoned with the logo “For Your Friends - For Your Album”, are much smaller than today’s postcards, measuring only 3 inches by 4 inches. Produced by the Novelty Manufacturing & Art Company Limited of Montreal, the 12 cards featured views of Fort William landmarks (circa 1930), including the Sleeping Giant, C.P.R. Station, grain elevators along the Kaministiquia River, Mount McKay, Kakabeka Falls, the Court House, the Royal Edward Hotel, and Fort William City Hall. There were also photos of two Canadian Pacific Railway combination passenger and package freight ships, the S.S. Assiniboia and her sister ship, the S.S. Keewatin.

But the view that we were all most fascinated by was that of the Jack Knife Bridge over the Kam River. If you look closely, you will see 12 workers clinging to the bridge railing while posing for the camera as the bridge lifts. I don’t think that particular pose would be possible today! 

These postcards somehow had made their way to Boston in years past, perhaps purchased by a traveller who had been through the Lakehead decades earlier. Now, they have made their way back here, brought by another traveller who thought that they should come back. Theirs has been an incredible journey that has given us an opportunity to celebrate the beauty and history of this place we are all lucky enough to call home.

Nancy Angus is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Bayview. Contact her at

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