Pioneer Postcards


Atkinson Bros released their series of pioneer view cards, as shown below, with blank backs, starting about 1900.


The earliest card I’ve come across in this series so far is postally used on October 22, 1900. If you know of earlier dates, please let me know.

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Sydney, Cape Breton, NB


The image on this postcard shows contingent of soldiers on horseback with artillery in tow, likely likely the 17th Sydney Filed Battery on parade, possibly prior to departure for the Boer War.

According to Kenneth Joseph Donovan in his “Cape Breton at 200: historical essays in honour of the Island's bicentennial”, a field artillery company was formed in Sydney in 1859. In December 1895, the Sydney Filed Battery was renamed the 17th Sydney Field Battery. By 1899, the Sydney Battery had 101 men and 29 horses and 8 nine pound guns capable of firing more than 2,000 yards.

As of July 1, 1900, the Sydney Battery had been reduced to a 53 man garrison artillery company in order that the balance of the company could depart for service in the Boer War, where a number of men joined “E” Battery of the field artillery of the Canadian Contingent. The 17th Sydney Field Battery was officially restored July 1, 1902 after the end of the Boer War.

Below, a detail from the card.


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The Harbour, Sydney, CB, NS

postally used September 3, 1900 from Sydney to France, redirected.

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Port Maitland Beach
Yarmouth, NS

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A St. Andrews, NB card mailed August 31, 1900 from St. Andrews to the USA. This card is unusual as it was used as a business card by St. Andrews Hotel, as shown below.

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Old Block House
St. Andrews, NB

Below, detail.
Note the text “Atkinson Bros.” on a curved line to the right
under the curved frame around the image border.

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The Bore, Petticodiac River
Moncton, N.B.

Note that this card bears a different typeface for the Private Post Card text, unique among the cards I have encountered to date.

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Basilica at St. Anne de Beaupré

This card shows the Basilica at St. Anne de Beaupré. The first church was built on the site in 1658. The first basilica was built in 1876, the year St. Anne was proclaimed the patron saint of the province of Quebec.

The Basilica is located downstream of Quebec City, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, near the downstream end of Ile d’Orleans. The building pictured on this card was destroyed by fire March 29, 1922, and was later replaced by a newer structure.

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City Gate
Postally used
October 22, 1900 from Quebec City to Reims, Marne, France

Below, a second example sent to France June 21, 1901 (hand dated), with a reversed indcia showing 1910

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St. Louis Gate, Quebec City
used from Quebec, November 17, 1900, to Nancy, France

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Shadow River, Lake Rosseau
postally used from Gravenhurst to Peoria, Illinois, USA
August 6, 1901

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Spencerville to Kemptville, Ontario,
February 14, 1901

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Downtown street scene, Winnipeg, Man. Can.

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Parliament Building, Winnipeg, Man. Can.

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Main Street,
Moose Jaw, ASSA

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Centre Star Gulch
Rossland, BC

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Post Office
Nanaimo, BC

Below, a detail from the card

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The Gorge, Victoria BC

postally used December 6, 1901
with Victoria BC postmark on a 1¢ QV Numeral stamp and
T/5 and 1d I.S.A. postage due markings
(required postage was 2¢)

Patriotic Postcards


Mike Smith, in his The Canadian Patriotic & Heraldic Postcard Handbook 1897–1945 Vol. 1, notes ten different patriotic postcard series by Atkinson Bros., including the second largest series of patriotic postcards, at over 400 cards listed.

Thanks to the careful sleuthing of Roger Miller, some of the chronology of Atkinson Bros. has been uncovered.


Walter & William Atkinson first appear to have operated together under the name of Atkinson Bros in 1882 in Hamilton, Ontario. By 1885, they went by Atkinson Bros (WG & WH) Manufacturing Stationers, 35 King East & 66 James North in Hamilton.

In the summer of 1890 Atkinson Bros opens a branch office at 14 Front Street West, Toronto. The business was moved to Toronto in 1891, where it operated until 1912.

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This variation on the standard Series 1 card shows yellow in place of the red colour used on the standard card. The card design matches ATB1-299.


Below, the colours of a standard card of this series.

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A use of an Atkinson patriotic Series 2 card from New Brunswick to Denmark in 1905. Mike Smith lists 157 cards in this series. The reverse of the card is shown below.

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This series includes 116 cards listed to date by Mike Smith. Atkinson Bros.
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This series includes 126 cards listed to date by Mike Smith.

Atkinson Bros. appear to have sold the rights to the card’s design to another publisher as their sales slowed, as a non-Atkinson Bros. back can be seen on some cards, when the Atkinson Bros. attribution has also been dropped from the card.

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Mike Smith lists 2 cards in this appliqué series.

View Cards

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Atkinson Bros produced a number of black & white view cards with a similar design, usually an image of scene, with space on the front of the card for the sender’s remarks, and an undivided back. These cards come on a range of colours of card stock, as shown below.

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A typical reverse of a card in this series is shown below.

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Occasionally, Atkinson Bros produced variations on their standard view cards, as shown below.

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This design was used on a series of view cards that shared a similar undivided back to the B&W series, and later, had a divided back as shown below.

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