This huge collection of postcards are all from Vancouver

Some are antique, some are used, some are brightly colored, some are shades of gray.

But hundreds of postcards that Gennifer Darling has collected have one thing in common: they are images of Vancouver.

For her, postcards are more than just cardboard and a pretty photo. In fact, many in his collection don’t have a stunning photo or stunning piece of art; it has a whole section devoted to old roadside hotels.

Instead, they (when it’s the right one) impact it.

“Those are the ones that hit me in a way, right? It’s not ‘Oh, don’t have that. Take it. Don’t have it. Take it, right? she says. “It’s got to hit me a certain way if it’s going to make a collection of it.”

The sentimentality of the collection

One of the types of cards she enjoys collecting are those that depict Vancouver at night.

“City lights always draw me in,” says Darling, noting how emotional a visual moment can be, like when it hits you in the heart or chest. “That’s it,” she adds.

Darling says the visual contrast of light and dark on postcards is “the epitome of Vancouver.”

Since the photos were taken without her, there is also a certain mystery in the captured moments, wondering what was happening at this place, at this time, where and when it could have been.

However, some of the postcards evoke real memories for Darling, as she has been to some of the places depicted.

“I remember going to the planetarium when I was in high school with friends and seeing Laser Offspring,” she says, holding up a postcard of the giant crab sculpture. “It was exactly that shadow of the night.”

What’s in the postcard collection

With hundreds of maps spanning over a century, there’s room for a few themes in Darling’s collection. She has a thing for the postcards produced when she was growing up in the city in the 90s, but she doesn’t stop there.

There are the classic tourist sites, hotels, parks and even a few dedicated specifically to the SkyTrain. Some of the street scenes she particularly likes because they don’t necessarily show a notable place.

“It’s Water Street and Cambie,” she says of one as she flips through a scrapbook. “And it’s not very remarkable in any way that I can see.

“And that’s why I think it’s interesting. Because, who would really want to send that?”

She notes that she used and new postcards, because “everything revolves around the image on the front”. This means she has a fair amount of letters from random tourists to loved ones in far off places; she reads them (at least, the ones in languages ​​she can understand) and says the messages add another dimension to her collection.

There is one type of card she avoids: recent ones. It’s not because she has anything against current cards, but they’re often cheap and don’t affect her in the same way.

The beginnings of the collection

Although Darling grew up in Vancouver, she left in her early twenties, after getting married and moving to Seattle.

Darling lived in Seattle for years and returned to Canada around the start of the pandemic: “Career and money. That’s not a good reason to stay anywhere.

She has always enjoyed sending and receiving mail; in fact, she has 35 active correspondents at the moment to whom she sends letters – including postcards.

Combine his deep-rooted love for Vancouver and the mail, add a yearning to return home that sprung up just before the pandemic, and you have the start of Darling’s collection.

She jokes that she has “accelerated” her collection, amassing so much in just three years.

Building the collection was also a money-saving strategy, Darling adds. “It was like, ‘Oh, let’s buy this $5 postcard, instead of buying this $25 blouse.'”

The collection now and in the future

There’s an audience for her collection, Darling discovered, and she created an Instagram account to share her collection with Vancouver and postcard fans. She hopes seeing the images will encourage people to take a moment to appreciate where they are.

“The city has so much beauty and there’s so much to offer everyone,” she says of Vancouver. “I wish people would slow down and watch.”

She even sent postcards to people she met on Instagram; direct messages are quick, but there’s more meaning with a postcard, she notes.

“Everybody wants to get something in the mail. Like, why not? Not you ? ” she says.

The future of collecting is growth, she said; there are no plans to do more at this time.

“Maybe one day I’ll give it to someone who loves Vancouver more than me,” she says. “But I don’t know who will love Vancouver more than me.”

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