On sale! Five new, glossy 5″ x 7″ postcards showcasing a special community in Northern New Brunswick …
It has been decades since picturesque Campbellton had new postcards. About time, you say.
The postcards came about because of two people: a young engineering student in China … and an aging, former resident of Campbellton who, after leaving town half a century ago, still misses the place.
THE CARDS …
Every story has a backstory and this one begins a long time ago, in the fall of 1967.
18 years old and fresh out of high school, I was on a CN passenger train shunting its way out of town. I was born and raised in Campbellton but there were no radio jobs there … and so I hit the road for a full-time gig in Newcastle, two hours’ away.
Because of the career I chose, I saw some of Canada … then some of the world. Disc jockeys didn’t earn much [at least not at my talent level] and so I moved from one radio station to another … from Newcastle to Quebec City to a town in northern British Columbia you’ve probably never heard of.
Living abroad was truly an education, an eye-opener. For three years I lived in Australia and Finland, proudly showing the locals photos of my hometown in Canada — especially those taken from the top of 1,000-foot high Sugarloaf Mountain. The view impressed the hell out of people.
Even though the pictures had been shot with a cheap, low-resolution Kodak Instamatic camera, the reaction was always the same: “Wow!!”
“And you left that to come here …?” That was the reaction of a cameraman at GTS Television in Port Pirie, South Australia back in 1971. My comeback was, “It’s a pretty spot … but, hey, we can’t grow oranges in our backyard … like you can.”
I was trying to keep things positive and maintain world peace.
It’s an odd thing, but it never dawned on me that my birthplace was exceptionally beautiful. I had taken it for granted.
To my way of thinking, Campbellton was a Norman Rockwell community. When I lived there, in the 1950s and 60s, the world seemed to make more sense. People looked out for each other. They were good to me and my family and I never forgot that. I’m talking about neighbours, teachers, classmates, and teammates.
Others have had experiences that weren’t as positive, I recognize that. But I’m telling you mine.
Campbellton [with a current population of 7500 or so] is surrounded on one side by the wide and peaceful Restigouche River; on the other, by the rolling Appalachian Mountains.
If you are fortunate to make it to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, on the southern edge of the city, you’ll be treated to a stunning vista you’d normally expect to see, well, on a postcard. This is where ‘picturesque’ reads so well in the tourism brochures.
While ‘away,’ I sometimes stayed in communities that when it came to natural beauty could not hold a candle to Campbellton. Not even close. They had taller buildings, yes. Subways, yes. Big shopping centers with escalators, yes. Better prices, yes. Not as much snow, yup.
But few places could match the beautiful setting of a special community in northern New Brunswick, especially in the fall.
No offense Mississauga, Brampton, Fort McMurray.
Just hearing those wow’s left me feeling very proud of the place where I was born. I’m sure many people from northern New Brunswick feel the same.
Fast-forward to December 2017. I was back in Campbellton and a blizzard was playing havoc with traffic, as always. [By the way, I love storms.]
The snow swirled wildly as I flung open the door of the Tourist Information Centre down by the river. I stamped my boots on the mat, snow flying everywhere, and walked over to a rack of glossy postcards. The cards were modern and professionally done … by The Postcard Factory of Markham, Ontario. Unfortunately, they were generic … depicting New Brunswick but not Campbellton.
That made no sense at all. Given the phenomenal beauty of the region, it struck me as rather odd that in a tourist centre in Campbellton there would be no postcards about Campbellton.
I made a quiet vow to produce new postcards — ones that were local.
What does a whiz kid in China have to do with new postcards of a city in Canada? Good question. Wang Tao, born in 1980, invented the Phantom, a fairly inexpensive drone that within just a few years would revolutionize aerial photography.
Tao — now Asia’s youngest tech billionaire — has sold millions of these remarkable machines.
It was the Phantom 4 Pro model that captured the images you see on Campbellton’s new postcards.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro sells for just over two grand. Google it for pricing information.
THE CAPTIONS …
I’ve always had a thing for postcards. Some I mail to friends but most are safely tucked away in a filing cabinet in my office. They’re among my most treasured [and least expensive] souvenirs.
Another thing. Whenever I’m in a different town, I head straight to a postcard rack to check out angles for photos. Camera-toting tourists take note.
“Alongside my ‘no email’ policy, I resolve to make better use of the wonderful Royal Mail and send letters and postcards to people. There is a huge pleasure in writing a letter, putting it in an envelope and sticking the stamp on it. And huge pleasure in receiving real letters, too.” — Tom Hodgkinson
POSTCARD #1 …
The J.C. VAN HORNE BRIDGE, built in 1961, connects Campbellton with Listuguj and Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec. Some jokingly refer to it as the bridge to cheap beer …. but for me, it’s been Campbellton’s number-one landmark for more than half a century.
The locals are very proud of their bridge. So am I. The bridge salutes Campbellton’s best-known citizen, politician Charles Van Horne. Van Horne was a visionary. The man thought outside the box and, more important, he was a doer. Charlie got things done.
When I was a kid, I drove my bike across that bridge. Many times. It was exciting to be high up, looking down at the water.
‘A bridge to nowhere,’ is how a friend in Edmonton described the photo of a bridge mysteriously disappearing into the fog. To get that image, I lifted the drone from the north parking lot of the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre and quickly clicked away before the rising sun burned off the fog.
One of the first to receive the postcard was Edward ‘Ted’ Skoczen, the Saskatchewan-born engineer who built that wonderful bridge. Ted was the project manager.
Skoczen lived in Campbellton while the bridge was being made. He not only fell in love with the town but with a local beauty … Henriette [‘Hank’] Pitre. Hank and Ted tied the knot on January 7, 1961.
Skoczen would go on to build bridges in Chatham and Fredericton, New Brunswick and throughout Canada and the U.S.
Ted turned 85 in December 2017. The Skoczens now live in Oldsmar, Florida.
Click on the images to enlarge ’em.
POSTCARD #2 …
The photo, taken from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, on the southern edge of Campbellton, shows the viewing platform, the Canada flag, city, and area. The flag is fully extended — which meant it was windy when the picture was taken.
Because of the strong gusts, the drone struggled to maintain its position in the sky. I could hear the tiny motors complaining. But thanks to Mr. Tao and his computerized GPS system which locks the Phantom into more than a dozen satellites, no problem. It worked like a charm.
This particular postcard will have special meaning for locals Myah Barristo, Josee Doucet and Alex Jones. Just minutes prior, the women had posed for the drone’s tiny camera.
Remember, click to enlarge.
POSTCARD #3 …
Isn’t this a beauty?
It’s a rarely-seen view of the eastern spine of the old Sugarloaf. I chose this picture for two reasons: [a] it’s unusual and [b] the colours are spectacular. It’s my favourite postcard.
That’s another draw card to Eastern Canada — those stunning fall colours. Take that, California.
The photo was taken in October 2017.
From the Terry Fox Trail, local media guru John Van Horne and I lifted the Phantom 4 Pro through the trees and flew it to the top of the mountain, where it circled the flag and returned — flying backward.
On its return flight, John checked the monitor [an iPod Mini]. “My, that’s wonderful!” he said.
The photo is now on many computers as a screen saver. A local microbrewery plans to use the image on one of its craft beers. I’ll drink to that.
POSTCARD #4 …
Here’s what a pilot would see before landing a small sea-plane on the Restigouche River — a looking-west view of a community that had its beginnings more than two centuries ago, in an era of sailing ships and horse-drawn wagons.
This particular photo was taken in the summer of 2016. The Phantom lifted off from the home of Hermini Thibeault [on Sunset Drive] and flew east until the city came into full view.
For this flight, the issue wasn’t the wind — but time. The drone has only so many minutes of flying time and getting it out that far was ‘pushing the envelope.’ The craft is gonzo if it goes down into salt water. Kaput.
Turns out, it was worth the gamble. The drone returned home safely … albeit with a ‘low battery’ warning.
AND POSTCARD #5 …
The final postcard features one of Campbellton’s best-known landmarks, a pair of crosses on Sugarloaf Mountain.
The unique monument pays tribute to two sisters, Dorvil McLean and Lottie Ramsay, who plunged to their deaths in November 1924 while descending the north face of the extinct volcano. On the front of the postcard are pictures of the crosses, the jagged cliffs … and a rare image of the victims.
The cards pay tribute to a stay-at-home mom and a waitress who will always be 21 and 19.
Campbelltonians know the story of the Ramsay girls, but not tourists. The postcard will help change that.
The postcard was produced with the permission of the Ramsay family. It’s the only card that — owing to space restraints — does not include a write-up written in Mi’Kmaq.
Rose Beek was my co-pilot on a warm day in July 2017 when the Phantom climbed above the trees and, out of sight, inched toward the crosses.
The red and white paint is vivid — thanks to a recent refresh paint job by volunteers, including Laura Doucet, Events Coordinator at the Sugarloaf Provincial Park.
” Wherever you travel to, I would love to receive a beautiful postcard.” Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom: Great Mind”
WHERE ARE THE CARDS AVAILABLE?
Complimentary sets of the new postcards were mailed to dozens of former Campbelltonians now living in other parts of New Brunswick, in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Complimentary cards were sent out as well to some people living in the United States.
The postcards started landing in letterboxes on 6 March 2018.
The new postcards will eventually be available at a number of outlets in Campbellton. They’re now on sale at:
- Camille & Son Sewing Centre, 36-A Roseberry Street.
- Dooly’s [Pub and Pool Hall], 81 Roseberry Street.
- Jean Coutu Pharmacy – 101 Water Street.
Other outlets will be added as soon as arrangements are finalized. When that happens, I’ll update this blog with the new information.
Like the sign says, the postcards sell for $1.00 each. That’s the same price similar cards are going for at the Tourist Information Centre in Campbellton. To compare, postcards made by the same company sell for $1.50 in Alberta. You don’t want to know what they go for in the Rockies.
I chose the Sewing Centre to be the first to distribute the new cards because — as noted in a recent story about them in Saltscapes — owners Camille Laforest and his son Alain have been described as ‘Campbellton’s business people of the century.’ They’re the real deal.
The postcards will soon be made available to the City of Campbellton for distribution to three key outlets: City Hall at 76 Water Street, the Visitor Information Centre on Salmon Boulevard, and the new Restigouche River Experience Centre, just west of the bridge.
Visitors frequent these spots, so it’s a perfect fit.
I have no doubt that — given the City’s enthusiasm and expertise in promoting Campbellton — the new postcards will eventually be on sale at these locations.
A question I’m frequently asked is … are the new postcards available online? Not yet.
It’s a complicated thing to set up, this online shopping and — I’ll admit it — I’m not computer savvy. [Remember, I’m 1940’s vintage. Only last week did I figure out how to change a typewriter ribbon.]
It depends on the vendor if the cards will be available online. I can’t speak for all the outlets in town, but I’m told that the number-one place for local souvenirs — the Tourist Information Centre — isn’t set up to sell products online.
Tell you what: if you live out of town and want to buy some of the new postcards, call my cell at 780.716.4693. I’ll get the cards out pronto. They’ll be in the mail either that day or the following day. Note that I live in Edmonton, Alberta.
Emailing works too: email@example.com. Subject heading: Postcards.
There’ll be a charge for the postcards and postage. I will forward the proceeds [minus postage] to a worthy cause in Campbellton. Updates will be posted.
Proceeds from the sale of all postcards will go to a worthy cause … this can be a registered charity, a festival or a special cause. The vendors will decide where the money goes … they know the community best and know who could best use a hand.
If managed properly, the project should be able to generate at least $4,000. I’m suggesting vendors retain 25 cents per card to cover things like handling and sales taxes.
Alain Laforest plans to give 100 percent of the proceeds to help a man whose workplace — the main post-office — is kitty-corner to his shop. He wants to help Chris Snow, a letter-carrier who was severely injured last fall when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The popular Canada Post worker is back in Campbellton with his wife and son after spending three months at a hospital in Moncton.
Chris Snow wears a neck brace and has trouble swallowing [he must use a feeding tube] … but he’s still with us and that’s the main thing. For a while, friends and family were worried Chris might not pull through. So severe were his injuries.
The young man suffered a broken neck, ruptured spleen, 11 broken ribs, broken toes and damage to his brain and lungs.
Hopefully, the new postcards of Campbellton will fill in some potholes on his long road to recovery.
Recognize that name? I certainly do. Rupert Lutes was the father of two boys I ran with when I lived in Campbellton, back in the 1950s and 60s. He was a Supervisor of Maintenance at CN Rail.
Rupert, who retired in the 1970s, wasn’t one to spend his retirement years in a rocking chair. He bought golf clubs and made quite a name for himself at the local golf course, snagging the occasional hole-in-one and racking up some unbelievable scores.
Rupert scored another hole in one when he purchased a ‘top-of-the-line’ Minolta 35 mm camera and a pile of lenses. He began to take beautiful photographs of his hometown.
The idea of producing new, 4″ x 6″ postcards came after he visited two local drug stores and seeing what they had for sale. Well. Their postcards showed vehicles from the 1950s. It was time for some new stuff.
Rupert Lutes threw his heart and soul into the project and he did this on his own time — and on his dime. The man didn’t need the money [he was drawing a good pension] … but he wanted to promote the town he loved. He didn’t have to travel to Australia to realize the beauty of Campbellton.
Far as I could tell, Rupert pulled it off without any government handouts or committee meetings. When it came to postcards, a former railway worker promoted Campbellton far better than the tourism folk in Fredericton, the provincial capital.
There was a bit of Charlie Van Horne in Rupert Lutes. He was straight-ahead and got the job done.
After Rupert died, 22-years ago, his widow, Joyce Lutes, continued to deliver his postcards to outlets — and the woman did this when she was well into her 80s.
Rupert Lutes’ postcards are still on sale at outlets such as Dixie Lee on Water Street. They sell for 75 cents.
‘THANK YOU’ TO THESE GOOD FOLK …
Thank you to Jeannette Thibeault and Melanie Nazair for the French translation. Hats off to John Van Horne for suggesting the Mi’Kmaq language should be included — and for former mayor Mark Ramsay and current mayor Stephanie Anglehart Paulin for giving the idea a thumbs up.
A tip of the hat to Joe Wilmot at Listuguj who kindly translated the cards to Mi’Kmaq — and to local nature photographer Darlene Firth [Dawonsville] and to Donna Lexi [Listuguj] for their help in paving the way for the Mi’Kmaq translation to appear on the cards. Without their help, this would not have happened.
Thanks also to John, Rose, and Hermini for their help on the days the Phantom took to the skies to capture those beautiful images. It’s always nice to have reliable co-pilots to warn of overhead wires and tree branches.
And to the good folk at The Postcard Factory in Markham, Ontario, for their fine work. More on that crew coming right up …
Finally, a huge thank you to all those who’ve treated me so well whenever I have returned to Campbellton for a visit. And a special heart-warming thanks to Don Hume, a walk-the-talk Christian, a tremendous example of community-mindedness.
Class and love are the greatest gifts.
Call it payback. The postcards are my way of saying ‘thank you.’ I hope they succeed in promoting a great little community.
THE POSTCARD FACTORY
I cannot say enough about the people who work at the Markham, Ontario company that produced the cards, The Postcard Factory.
I dealt with perhaps half a dozen people there … a sales rep, sales/marketing manager, receptionist, layout staff, communications staff, and someone in accounting. May have even talked to a night watchman, not sure.
ALL were a 15 out of 10. They took my phone calls and for those times when I had to leave a message, they promptly returned those calls. The staff responded to my emails promptly and communicated clearly.
The Postcard Factory is a class act from start to finish. Management could give classes to private and public sector employees on how to get the job done.
To top it off, the company chose a courier [FedEx] that delivered the postcards in good condition. And on time.
MORE TO COME?
Why not? I can see more postcards coming down the pike, just as Campbelltonians can see an end to snowstorms in May. Okay, June then.
Salmon Festival organizers are now thinking about manufacturing their own postcards [good idea], as is Brent Babcock of the Restigouche River Experience Centre. Another good idea. The postcards should sell well … and promote the city even further.
Campbellton City Hall [506.789.2700] should have more information on when this will happen.
I can also see historical cards being produced plus postcards depicting local animals and birds.
I can also see the day coming when Campbellton will have more local postcards than places like Moncton and Halifax.
OH NO. ANOTHER MARKETING SURVEY …
LOCAL MEDIA COVERAGE …
This post mentions people and subject matter that’s covered more extensively in these stories … Click away.
The Ramsay Sisters: https://byronchristopher.org/2017/10/08/death-on-the-mountain/
Sugarloaf Mountain: https://byronchristopher.org/2017/07/16/my-love-affair-with-a-mountain/