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Heritage collection of postcards

Description of the collection

Postcard, Chateau Frontenac from Laval University, Quebec - Editor: A.L. Merrill; Toronto

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec offers its users a collection of approximately 60,000 Québec postcards published from the late 19th century to the present. Through legal deposit , begun in 1992, and various donations – particularly those of Michel Bazinet and Marcel Paquette in the mid-1990s – the collection has grown into one of the most complete ones dealing with Québec since the advent of the postcard.

Whether old or recent, the postcards in the collection have been published in Québec or have Québec as their subject. Over one thousand Québec cities and towns are represented on them, from the Îles-de-la-Madeleine to the Eastern Townships to the Outaouais region. Montréal is particularly well represented, figuring on more than 11,000 postcards. Because it is so extensive, the collection makes it possible to follow the evolution of postcard publishing in Québec over more than a century. A most valuable historical source for researchers interested in cultural history in Québec , postcards provide information on subjects as varied as urbanization, architecture, clothing, transportation, agriculture, occupations, industrialization, recreation, and more.

The collection includes everything from a card of the R-100 dirigible in the skies over Montréal, to a card of the funicular elevator on Mont Royal, to a card of the Dionne quintuplets, to a card of an ice palace, to a card of Cap Diamant in the early 20th century. Also in the collection are cards made of a variety of unusual materials, such as canvas, leather, aluminum and wood. Among the most important Québec publishers of cards are the Pinsonneault brothers, Ludger Charpentier, Lorenzo Audet, Ovila Allard , the Illustrated Post Card Company , Novelty Manufacturing Art , Unic, Granger Frères and J.-P. Garneau.

BAnQ users can consult the postcard collection for a variety of reasons, for instance, to:

  • improve their knowledge of the ways and customs of Quebecers at various periods in their history;
  • find out about the environment of a city or town in an earlier time;
  • document historical or geographic research;
  • find illustrations for a book, TV documentary or film;
  • identify a postcard in their possession;
  • measure the historical transformations of the urban or rural landscape;
  • complete a historical study of a particular Québec locality.

The collection also has a variety of reference works on postcards. The main ones are described in the section An exploration of the collection.

Search tools and publications

Thanks to the Iris multimedia catalogue, BAnQ users can access the bibliographic record of postcards held in the collection. To date, nearly 20,000 postcards have been digitized. All digitized postcards can be readily accessed through the Images digital collection.

Logo Historypin

Go to the Historypin website to geotag some of the postcards

To find out more about the collection, you can also consult the following articles in the magazine À rayons ouverts

  • Daniel Chouinard, "Acquisition de deux importantes collections de cartes postales", À rayons ouverts , No. 31, July-September 1995
  • Michel Biron, "La carte postale", À rayons ouverts , No. 12, October-December 1990

Contacting the service

Postcards can be studied in the reading room of BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-PatrieThis room is open to the public, on reservation, Tuesday through Friday, from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Tel.: 514 873-1101, ext. 3823 or 1 800 363-9028 (in Québec )
Fax: 514 873-7168
E-mail: collectionspeciale@banq.qc.ca

The person in charge of this collection is Jean-François Palomino.