“Having a wonderful time” Postcards from Windermere, British Columbia, Canada

To the west of Banff National Park lies the village of Windermere. Scottish-born businessman and government agent Gilbert Malcolm Sproat (1834-1913) named both the lake and the town.  The landscape of Windermere, BC is similar to that of Windermere, UK, and this undoubtedly influenced Sproat’s decision.

Sproat served briefly as a correspondent for the London Times, wrote letters to the local newspapers and produced books on the education of the rural poor in England and aboriginal life in British Columbia.  He wrote a critical work on the poetry of Walter Scott and was familiar with William Wordsworth.

During the 1880s, Sproat held several regional offices in the Kootenay region, where Windermere is located. One of his duties was the negotiation of aboriginal land claims, an issue that remains a major priority in Canada today.

On display here are postcards selected from SFU Library’s Special Collections showing the historical impact of literary landscapes created in the Lake District on how we see Canadian scenery.


The stillness and solitude of this photograph point to Wordsworth’s childhood memory in The Prelude (1850) of stealing a boat in an “act of stealth/And troubled pleasure.”

Lake Windermere, B.C. Hal Bavin, no date. Made In Canada.






This conventional pose of figures standing on the shore looking toward a lake is common in Lake District travel writing, going back to the late eighteenth-century writings and sketches of artist William Gilpin. 



Inscribed on the back:

"They say you can get some big ones from this lake. We have seen some beautiful country. The scenery is marvellous. We are in Canada now and expect to go to Banff and Lake Louise tomorrow. July 9-'47.”

Address: Ansonia, Conn. U.S.A.
Windermere Lake, Windermere, BC, 1947.






Here is another classic view of Windermere beach. The inscription on the back is dated Aug 8th/51:

Windermere Lake! At last a card … Having a wonderful time … Radium Hot Springs. The pools are fine & all very comfortable. Very hot … dry here at the lake. How is my dear little Boy? Returning ... this week ... much love.”

Address: Vancouver B.C.
Windermere Beach, BC, 1951.





The Windermere hotel was founded in 1888.

"Hotel Windermere B.C," no date.
One-Cent Postage.






A warehouse and dock were constructed on the lakeshore in 1890.


"Windermere Beach, B.C." Calgary Photo Supply Co., Calgary (Alta.), K. Robinson.




Visit the British Columbia Postcards Collection website to view additional items in the collection.