I purchased this postcard from a dealer, recently. It was not an expensive card, but the view of the (then-new) World Building, the long-gone water tank on the extant warehouse structure behind the World, the view along West Pender Street toward Central School, and the street scene in the foreground, all appealed to me. I didn’t even read the intriguing message on verso until much later!
I’ll transcribe the message:
Miss Francis Cox
Upper Dyke Village
Kings Co., N.S.
Do you know who this card is from? If you do write me at 1012 Eveleigh St. Vancouver B.C. This is the lattest [sic; he probably meant “tallest”, but crossed the t’s] office building in the British Empire. Height is 278 feet [The World was, briefly, the tallest in the Empire; it lost this distinction during the year as this postcard was mailed to Toronto’s Canadian Pacific Building].
Once I’d read the this, I was puzzled by what it meant. Who would send such an obscure and unsigned message on a postcard clear across the country?
I took the card to a roundtable meeting of the Vancouver Postcard Club and posed my query to that body of more experienced postcard aficionados. Everyone present felt sure that this message represented a form of ‘flirtation by post’.
My research, until then, had consisted only of looking in the 1913 city directory to see who was living at the Eveleigh Street address cited in the message. The person’s name was Guy C. Anderson.
After having had the benefit of my fellow club members’ wisdom regarding the nature of the message, I headed to the public library for a root around in Ancestry’s Library Edition. I learned a number of interesting facts there:
- Guy Carleton Anderson was born on July 22, 1877 in Massachusetts to James and Elizabeth Anderson. Guy’s parents were both born in Nova Scotia and it seems likely that the family returned to N.S. for visits during his growing-up years. Such visits probably explain his connection with Miss Cox.
- Immigrated to Canada in 1891;
- Was a ‘machinist’ (later a ‘mechanic’) by trade;
- Considered himself, at different stages of his life, a Methodist and a Church of England adherent;
- According to the 1891 Census (Guy was 14 (!) at the time, and living in Vancouver), that year, Guy was lodging with a young couple (both 23) by the name of Edward and Mary Lipsett (they would go on, in later years, to assemble an enviable collection of Native and Oriental artifacts; the collection later was donated to the Museum of Vancouver, and remains there), Henry Newbury (23), and several other other Andersons: Earl (50) and Lizzie (50) (who may have been Guy’s uncle and aunt; probably guardians to Guy and his siblings, also lodging with the Lipsetts: Jessie (17) and Roy (12).
In 1904, Guy married Phoebeline Keith; she had been born ca1888.
The postcard was sent by Guy to Miss Frances Cox (note: Frances was the correct spelling) in 1913, when Miss Cox would have been about 21 (she was born in 1892).
The communication was probably an innocent flirtation out of which nothing came – due to distance and/or Miss Cox’s disinclination to play along.¹ But who can say, for sure.
The Andersons seem to have headed for San Francisco shortly before Canada joined WWI. There are papers indicating that Guy was registered for the American draft in WWI and WWII. They seem to have lived out their lives in San Francisco; Phoebe died there in 1960 and Guy in 1962.
Frances doesn’t turn up in the official record of Guy and Phoebe Anderson. Frances married Roy Pennington Caulkin and died in Kentville, N.S. (year unknown by me).
Here is a great question from a reader of VAIW: Why did Miss Cox (later Mrs Caulkin) keep Guy Anderson’s postcard, if he meant nothing to her?!
¹There is no evidence that I could find of a familial relationship between Guy and Frances, but it’s possible that Frances was a cousin or other relation of Guy.