PEI

Islander's old-timey postcards a window to P.E.I.'s past

Mike LeClair, who's originally from Tignish, says he's collected P.E.I. postcards for the past 20 years or so and has recently dug them out of storage to share on social media.

'I'm a pack rat I guess they call it. I just love collecting old stuff'

'If I see one I pick it up and buy it, I don't care if it's written on or what kind of shape it's in, I just like them,' Mike LeClair says. (Cody MacKay/CBC)

Generally, the idea behind postcards is to send them off to distant lands as wish-you-were-here-type mementos, but one Islander has been packing away as many as he can as way to preserve pieces of history.

Mike LeClair, who's originally from Tignish, says he's collected P.E.I. postcards for the past 20 years or so and has recently dug them out of storage to share on social media.

"If I see one I pick it up and buy it, I don't care if it's written on or what kind of shape it's in, I just like them," he said.

"It's something you're not going to see anymore and the places are all changed now so it's kind of nice to look back to see what [those places] looked like."

Some photos have dates and locations on them, while some don't, he says. This one is from Murray Harbour, LeClair says. (Submitted by Mike LeClair)

He says he must have hundreds of postcards showing the Island's landscape and that the collection is evergrowing with illustrations not only of P.E.I. but a "whole bunch from different provinces and different states" too.

"I'm just a collector," he said. "I'm a pack rat I guess they call it. I just love collecting old stuff."

He's been slotting each card in photo albums to keep them intact, but before he does that he's been taking photos of each one and putting them on Facebook.

That way people can look through these little windows into history.

Remember when the bridge looked like this? (Submitted by Mike LeClair)

Some of the postcards are more recent than others, but many more show scenes from decades ago. LeClair is still trying to figure out dates or locations for some — which he hopes people online can help with.

Asked which one in the collection is his favourite, there wasn't a hesitation: it's titled Stompin' Tom's School.

"I just love it, the one of the old schoolhouse. That's my favourite one."

This one is his all-time favourite. (Submitted by Mike LeClair)

Among his other favourites include photos of the old ferries as well as one showing what he thinks is Queen Street in Charlottetown with "all the old cars."

But it's cards like these that can be hard to date. "Some do have some dates and some of them don't," he said.

"I can't tell how old some of them are, they could be reprints, I don't know."

These colourful cars show a neat scene in downtown Charlottetown. (Submitted by Mike LeClair)

So in putting them on social media, he's excited to hear that people are enjoying his posts with dozens of comments for him to sift through every night.

"I can't even keep up with them there's so many," he laughed.

But he also hopes Islanders keep showing an interest in the photos so he can get to the stories behind the scenery.

Golden fields on rolling hills. (Submitted by Mike LeClair)

More P.E.I. news

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cody MacKay

Multi-platform Journalist

Cody MacKay is a writer, editor and social media producer for CBC News on Prince Edward Island. From Summerside, he's a UPEI history and Carleton masters of journalism grad who joined CBC P.E.I. in 2017. You can reach him at cody.mackay@cbc.ca.

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