‘Snapshot in time’ collected on old postcards for history book

Postcards offer unique perspective on recording of history

Over the years, Joanne Therrien has collected over 6,000 vintage postcards, many over a century old. 

Joanne Therrien
Joanne Therrien

Now she is incorporating them into a series of Canadian history books to be published in both French and English.

“I have been an avid deltiologist (vintage postcard collector) for many years,” says the Old St. Boniface resident. 

“Readers appreciate history and old photos.”

Le Vieux-Québec en Cartes Postales Anciennes, the first title in the series, shares images from her collection and from the archives, offering glimpses of places in Old Quebec City many years ago. 

Some places are now long gone. Some have changed. Some remain much the same, as the world evolved around them.

Therrien lived in Old Quebec City for 12 years, and worked on Grande-Allée in the heart of Old Quebec. 

There, she remembers exploring the city, lunching in historic up-to-400-year-old buildings, and walking down the old port.

“I was fascinated by the stories of the area, the hardships people had endured and their survival thanks to the Indigenous people who helped them. The fortress was unique in North America, and the architecture of the perfectly preserved heritage buildings was remarkable.”

This book will be of special interest to visitors to Old Quebec City, and others who want to consider its history in old postcards. “Readers will learn more about the history of the places,” she says. 

“They will also discover the very unique contribution of old vintage postcards in the recording of history.”

Francophone journalist Martine Bordeleau co-authored this first book in the series, and Véronique Togneri, retired graphic artist for La Liberté, is designing the books.

For Therrien, the series is a dream come true. 

Martine Bordeleau
Martine Bordeleau

She had the idea about eight years ago when she incorporated some of her postcards into the history chapters of her coffee table books on the St. Boniface Cathedral and the Esplanade Riel and Provencher bridges. 

“I was about to launch it when the pandemic hit. So it was another three years.”

Therrien’s postcard collection includes about 50 old postcards that once belonged to her late grandmother, and she continues to build on her collection. Some she has donated or will donate to archival collections.

“The photos or illustrations on the front of a postcard provide a snapshot in time,” she says, “and the stamps, the postmarks, and the personal messages addressed to someone special on the back provide a certain je ne sais quoi.”