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By Andrew Cunningham

In a post from July 2016 concerning “Government Agent” cards, I had noted that, thanks to the efforts of TPC members Wayne Curtis and Philip Francis, we knew of a total of 35 Government Agent postcards. To back up a bit, “Government Agent” cards are the western settlement promotional postcards, aimed primarily at English farmers, that sported the distinctive back design depicted below. In that July post, I referred to a short note in the Winnipeg Tribune for July 24, 1905 (also below) that was quite clearly referring to the publication of the postcards. The Tribune happened to describe the images on four of the cards, three of which are on Wayne and Philip’s lists, but the fourth of which — a Calgary bird’s-eye view — didn’t seem to be.

Well, in researching the publisher history of the Calgary-based H. Enida Olive Co., what should turn up among the images I found but a card (not by H. Enida Olive) entitled A Great Cattle Market, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Centre of Ranching Industry, number 6058 in the Images section of the University of Alberta’s Peel Prairie Provinces Collection. That is clearly the card in question. However, rather than being a new, 36th card, it turns out to be one from Wayne and Philip’s list. The title of the card, which I hadn’t seen until now, just didn’t suggest that the view was a bird’s eye. So we’re still stuck at 35 cards!

Here’s a look at this very rare Calgary view … 

A Great Cattle Market and a Great Postcard (PEEL COLLECTION, U OF ALBERTA)

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  1. Card Talk Editor

    PS – On the prairies, there were grain elevators in the majority of villages and towns, so even the smallest place will usually have BEVs taken from an impressive height.

  2. Card Talk Editor

    Hi! Sorry for any confusion. It is a bird’s eye view. The story is that I discovered the newspaper clipping, which mentioned 4 bird’s eye views (BEVs) in the series. I have most of the cards myself, including the other 3 BEVs, but there are some that I know only as titles on Wayne and Philip’s master list. When I saw that the clipping referred to a BEV from Calgary, I assumed that it must be an entirely new card because there wasn’t anything on the list entitled “Bird’s eye view of Calgary” or anything similar (the other 3 BEVs do have such titles). But now that I’ve actually seen the above card “in the flesh”, I realize that it is the BEV in question. I just didn’t figure that out on the basis of the title alone – I think I assumed it would be a picture of some cattle at a market. So — the moral of the somewhat uninteresting story — the “Calgary BEV” referred to in the clipping isn’t the elusive Card #36 at all. It was just one of the ones on the list of 35 that I hadn’t seen.

  3. I am curious as to why this would not be classified as a “bird’s eye view”. I am not familiar with Calgary at the time but the photo seems to be from a high vantage point. What buildings would have been in the City at the time which would have the height to give this view? Given the aerial technology at the time I suspect that most birds eye views were from steeples, towers or high vantage points. If so, how is this different?

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