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The Art of Season’s Greetings 2: Canadian Compliments of the Season

(Added 4 December 2008)

Canadian publishers had jumped on the bandwagon of printed Christmas cards as early as the 1870s to compete with foreign printers. This card is cited as the earliest known Canadian-produced Christmas card. Montreal and Toronto boasted printing or publishing companies that considered Christmas cards an essential part of their business. Montreal’s firms were G. & W. Clarke, J.T. Henderson and Bennett & Co. G. & W. Clarke was one of Canada’s most prominent Canadian Christmas card publishers. Though they printed their Canadian winter scenes in England and Germany, this publishing company’s records for the year 1881 show sales of 17,000 cards in one season. In contrast to Clarke’s use of foreign printing companies, in the 1880s J. T. Henderson created cards publicized as “designed, patented and produced in Canada.” Henderson said in 1881: “My cards are all Canadian workmanship. Canadian in sentiment, design and execution.” The Toronto companies producing Canadian Christmas cards were Rolph, Smith & Co., James Campbell & Son, and Barber & Ellis. The latter two companies printed their cards abroad, but Rolph, Smith & Co. “did their own colour-printing.”

Source:
Elizabeth Collard, “Canada’s Victorian Christmas Cards.” Canadian Antiques Collector 9 (November-December 1974): 35-38.

Kenneth Rowe, “Greetings: the Christmas card in Canada,” Canadian Collector 21 (November-December 1986): 36.

Image:
Young Canada on Snowshoes (1878), Montreal: G. and W. Clarke, Collection of the Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. Reproduced in “Early Canadian Christmas Card Dates Back to 1878,” Pembroke Observer (24 December 1986).

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