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Love Canal: 1907

Love Canal: 1907

Detroit circa 1907. "Band concert on Grand Canal, Belle Isle Park." Once upon a time it might have been possible to woo a girl with just a humble canoe, but now you need plush pillows and a phonograph. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


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In the Groove

My grandparents did the Victor record player in a canoe also. I don't know how they'd keep the record from skipping but I do remember dad being able to get into a canoe without it moving much at all- a skill I'm sure he learned at a young age- he's the littlest one in this canoe! Belle Isle too, c. 1923

Life jackets and American tragedies

Judging by that charmless embankment, this water attraction was man-made (man-dug?), and probably three feet or so deep, so no life jackets were needed. Say, isn't that Theodore Dreiser with the dark jacket lolling in the boat, right foreground, perhaps dreaming up a love story about a guy with a pregnant and poor girl friend but he's really in love with a wealthy young lady and he, oh, I don't know, decides to do away with the unfortunate mother-to-be, or something? "I know what. I'll have him 'accidentally" push her in front of a train. Naw, too messy. Hey, how about they're out on a lonely lake in a canoe, and -- "

The thread continues

I get the boating

And I get and why it was probably fun (relatively speaking) to row down the canal and all on a nice day (although THAT much of an audience would have made me a bit self-conscious) What I DON'T understand is why all those dressed up folks are just sitting there on either side of the canal, watching. Was it a competition, or is there a concert or something else also going on? Or was life in Detroit in 1907 so boring that you would really WANT to just sit by the side of a canal in fancy duds and watch people row around? Am I missing something here??

[A closer look at the photo (and the caption) might solve the mystery! - Dave]

Wow, where do I start?

So many opportunities for comments on this one. First, Mr. Bored in lower right front, obviously he and his lady are charter members of the Big Button Club.

And what's that guy at right center, the one who's laid back and waving -- what could he be saying? Maybe directed at the single guy at left center: "Hey, Fred, if you'd get yourself a girl friend you wouldn't have to do your own paddlin'!"

As for "Who brings a phonograph to a concert," indeed! Next thing you know kids will be bringing iPods to their next rock concert. Oh wait, never mind.

Chivalry Metro Man

Fret not on the cads - there is a man on the left side pavement pushing a baby carriage. Besides, the boat men discovered that when the women are paddling they are distracted from complaining. Uh oh, I'm going to hear it on this one.

Maybe the old days weren't so great

All those people considered their options for the afternoon and chose this? The guy in the boat at lower right looks about as bored as I would have been. He had probably told the girl, "Either you row or we go home. And I hope you refuse to row!"


The modern equivalent to toting the phonograph is being encumbered by an early generation iPod, or, heaven forbid, a Discman. Unthinkable!

Hoping to get lucky?

Are those fellows paddling around with empty pillows hoping to lure a young lady from among the spectators and get lucky? And by lucky I mean will he be able to entice them to paddle the canoe while he lolls about on the cushions like those other lads are doing.

Marine accessories

Interesting canoe front and center. He has a lantern on one end and what looks like a spotlight of some kind on the other. There is a second canoe which also seems to have a spotlight on it as well.

Long Day's Journey

Maybe it's because the concert will be going on into night. Otherwise, why would two of the canoes carry mounted searchlights in the bow? And the guy with the Victrola seems to have a stern lantern as well, just to make sure his night vision is truly shot on the way back.

One has to wonder about the power source for these lights in the boats. Decisions, decisions! Battery or kerosene? Not so obvious in 1907.

Paddlin' Women

The next thing you know they'll be asking for the right to vote. Geez!

Personal audio

Alternate title: "Turn That !*#&! Thing Down!: The Early Days"

And Why

Does the canoe with the phongraph have a searchlight. The "unimpressed" lad does have an interesting jacket though.

Safety Last

No one is wearing a life jacket.

Just another chip in the block

for the suffragettes. I'm assuming the women that are paddling are doing it on their own accord. They most likely demanded both the paddle and man cards from their escorts.

Chivalry, dead as a doornail

I see at least three canoes where the man is taking it easy while the woman does the paddling!

Smiles, anyone?

No one seems to be having a good time. Those are quite some hairdos on the ladies in the two canoes near the front.

And who brings a phonograph to a concert?


Once on the water, hats appear to be optional for the gents.


Ha, I was wondering where you were going with that for a minute Dave! I have to say, this is one of the most interesting photos I've seen on Shorpy. There seems to be a number of unchivalrous cads who are getting their dates to do the rowing, with the chap bottom right looking particularly unimpressed. Or perhaps he's not keen on the music.

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