At the turn of the 20th century in the summer months many people looking to escape the heat and pollution of Toronto came to Bolton and the surrounding area to enjoy the natural setting and fresh air. The Toronto Grey & Bruce railway steaming up from Toronto’s Union Station was the popular way to travel. Children from the city would ride up to stay with family members or attend the Fresh Air Camp just outside the village. A visit to Bolton was a break from the daily run of city life and offered boundless opportunities for new experiences. And what better way was there to pass on the thrills than send back a postcard!
Many of us can remember a time when it was common to receive a postcard in the mail from a loved one or friend who was on vacation in some exotic place. We would look quickly at the picture before flipping it over to see who it was from. There we would find a short note describing the image and how the trip has been thus far, and assuring the reader that all was well. This form of personal communication was an innovation of the Victorian Era and a way for people to correspond without the need for an envelope. These small pieces of rectangular cardboard have become a valuable resource of historical images and insights into the daily life of times now past.
Recently I came across some old postcards that reflect Bolton’s long and interesting past. They span four decades from 1909 to the 1950`s. What make them special are not just the images but the personal notes from the senders.
Back in 1909 stereoscopic imaging was a common way to show images and transfer them to postcards from glass negatives. Stereoscopic views and viewers used two simultaneous images of a subject from slightly different angles. When viewed through a stereoscopic viewer, the two separate images appear three-dimensional.
Arrived safe and sound. Everything is about the same. Some people did not know me at first I have grown so. This is the right place to come for a rest. Don’t forget to write. Just address to Bolton.
Addressed to: Miss H. Cannon, 390 Margueretta St., Toronto
Received your postcard so I decided to write one to you and Mother. Betty who is a girl of 16 who is staying nearby and I went for a bath in the Humber. I borrowed a bathing suit of course but I would have liked my own. We are going to Weston tonight. I have been berry picking three times. I am glad you like it there. I was at Bolton last night and it sure is a dead town. I saw Uncle Bob there buying his supplies.
P.S. I got an envelope so I can write some more. I did not scare any cows or chickens but I am always teasing a little kitten. When are you leaving for Ottawa. Isn’t it hot today.
P.S.S. The water is swift and medium.
A note on the left lower corner reads ‘I like it here’.
Bolton Camp was founded in 1922 by the Toronto Star newspaper’s first publisher, Joseph Atkinson, who wanted to provide an opportunity for under-privileged children to escape the city. The camp was established on the site of an abandoned fishing club about 5km east of Bolton on King Street. Over its lifetime thousands of children and adults called the camp home during the summer months.
I couldn’t get one of the cabins so I guess this will have to do. The name is Glen Bernard Summer Camp.
Addressed to: Miss Dorothy Layman, 132 Lisgar St., Toronto
Camp Howell Saturday,
The time is nearly up as leave here Tuesday. Have enjoyed the experience. 321 mothers & babies in camp. Very much more pleasant swimming Lorna. Hope the relief plan working out better and ? and ? are well.
Addressed to: Miss Winnie Urquhart, 280 Bloor St. W., Toronto
By Derek Paterson