A virtual museum of the golden age of the Canadian pencil industry.
News has been the news recently in Canada. The Canadian government passed the Online News Act (Bill C-18) in June 2023. The act required online companies to pay Canadian news organizations when someone reads their content on one of their sites. Unsurprisingly, online platforms are not happy about this. Tech companies that this is an unfair tax and the government thinks the bill will help support struggling Canadian news industry. Quite a debate with valid points on both sides.
A good opportunity to talk about a pencil perhaps? The Canadian Press pencil shown below is very similar to a Dixon Flamingo... soft, dark lead perfect for a reporter writing notes.
The Canadian Press (CP) has a long history in Canada, first being created in 1917 to report on news from the front during World War I. It is now a privately held independent national news agency. I turns 106 years old on Friday, September 1st, 2023.
Cabinets of curiosities, sometimes called cabinets of wonder, have a long history as a collection of notable objects. Check out this TED-Ed video on the history of museums. They were a way to display collections and spark interesting conversations. Instead of a cabinet, I have a shelf... or rather the top of a shelf to display a few stationary related artifacts.
This small collection contains:
The Eagle Pencil Company, with its factory in Drummondville, QC was established in 1931 and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1991. The Alberta Parks Service also celebrated their 60th anniversary at approximately the same time. When Eagle printed special anniversary boxes of pencils, the Alberta Parks Service also had pencils created to commemorated their anniversary.
"The Provincial Parks and Protected Areas Act was passed at the 1930 session of the Alberta legislature. In spring 1930, the Provincial Board of Management for parks was established. Establishment of Aspen Beach Provincial Park in 1932 signalled the official beginning of Alberta's provincial park system. Gooseberry Lake, Park Lake, Sylvan Lake and Saskatoon Island provincial parks were also established at this time."
No, I'm not talking about the Netflix series... this is however a regal pencil. The Eagle Crown 862 copying pencil is a pencil made with high quality. One British advertisement from 1881 stated that "Each [Eagle Pencil] Brand denotes a quality of Lead, Cedar, and Finish, "The Crown" being the highest grade that can be produced. You can see there has been much effort to design a pencil that stands appart including a unique ferrule.
The "Crown" logo and name was originally applied to a line of penholders and so it is difficult to find information about this copying pencil as most searches lead to the more common penholder.
A pencil made by Venus Canada to celebrade Canada's Centennial celebration in 1967. I features the image of an RCMP officer along with the centennial maple leaf logo.
I recently found a pack of Eagle Confetti 90-HB pencils. This is a pencil that I've been hoping to find for a quite some time. They came in a package with a trio of colors (light blue, orange and yellow) and a funky font style.
These pencils are fairly uncommon. The price tag on the package is from S.S. Kresge Co. (which became Kmart in 1977... but there were S.S. Kresge stores in Canada into the 1990s). I think these pencils date from around the 1960s based on the logo on the package and the style of the silver ferrule. I've seen other examples of the pencil in different colors (burgundy, orange and green). I've wondered if these pencils were sold about the same time as other colorful Eagle pencils with close numbers such as the Eagle Rocket 84, Eagle Neon 86 and Eagle Roy Rogers 88. All of these pencils came in a number of colors and had the same ferrule
Do you have any favorite colorful pencils? Here are some of mine...
This weekend, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, plays host to the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix. This Formula One race event has a long history in Montreal. The track was opened in 1978 and is named after Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve who won the first Grand Prix event held at the track.
Berol Canada started making a "Grand Prix" pencil around 1979. The pencil was been made in many different colors and styles over its production life from about 1979 to the early 1990s. I've written about these pencils in the past.
These are some great vintage pencils with surprisingly good erasers for their age. I write with them regularly.
May 8th is the anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. This day commemorates the day that Germany unconditionally surrendered its military forces to the Allies on May 8, 1945.
There is a show on community television where I live called "The Past and the Curious." The show states, "An article can endure through time, but only its story makes it an artifact." I think the pencil shown below has an interesting story to tell. It is a pencil made by the Venus Pencil Company of Canada that has the patriotic slogan "There'll Always Be an England" on its side. In addition to the slogan it has the Union jack, a British bulldog and lion... all popular symbols of England.
"There'll Always Be an England" is an English patriotic song, written and distributed in the summer of 1939. The song became very popular as Canada entered the Second World War in 1939. The song was played on the radio and the sheet music sold 130,000 copies in Canada (published by Gordon V. Thompson who secured the North American copyright). Initially, the song was banned on the radio in the US which was still neutral at the time.
Because of the popularity of the song, many items where made with the slogan, "There'll Always be an England." Below is a vintage Canadian post card with the slogan and a Union Jack waving in front of a military display.
Below is an envelope sent from Canada to the US in November 1941. The postmark shows that the letter was mailed on Nov. 20th, 1941 from Windsor, Ontario. It appears that the "Enlist Now" flag cancel was used in 32 different cities during the period of 1941 to 1943. I can imagine this letter reaching its American destination about the time of the Dec. 7th 1941 attach on Pearl Harbour.
Happy VE Day!
There won't be a "made-in-Canada" pencil to mark the coronation of King Charles III but we can at least admire pencils from past coronations. A number of Canadian pencil manufacturers made commemorative pencils for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Below is a pencil, made by the Eagle Pencil Company of Canada, to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937.
Below is a very similar pencil, made by Eagle to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. It came in both gold and silver.
The vast majority of vintage "Made in Canada" wooden school rulers were manufactured by the Acme Ruler and Advertising Company located in Toronto, Ontario. There were other companies that made wooden rulers in Canada as well. One company, almost as old as Acme, was the Canadian Rulers Company was founded in Bedford, Quebec in 1939. Below is a 15 inch ruler from this company.
While Acme was purchased by an American company production moved overseas, the Canadian Rulers Company is still in business in Canada. The company changed its name in 1960 to Bedford Ruler Ltd. and now focuses mainly on production of paint paddles.
It is difficult to find much information on these rulers. The only mentions I found online was from several different Canadian Trade Indexes from the 1950s.