Going Under Canvas at Sumner – 1890s

During the past year or two it has been customary for a number of parties of young men to go into camp at Sumner for the summer months, and to come up to Christchurch during business hours. Special facilities for this purpose having been offered by the Christchurch Tramway Company, the number of camps has considerably increased this year, and at the present time there are some forty parties living under canvas there, comprising over a hundred persons.

Unidentified men sitting around the table having cake and tea at 'Daisy Camp', Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-028287-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29943522
Unidentified men sitting around the table having cake and tea at ‘Daisy Camp’, Christchurch.[1]
While some of the parties have been content to continue the primitive style of camping, others have gone in for most elaborate arrangements, and amongst some of the larger encampments there is a good deal of rivalry, both as to the amount of canvas spread, and also in the fitting up and furnishing of their temporary abides. “Camping,” to the uninitiated usually suggests the most primitive style of living in tents; sleeping on the ground and roughing it generally, with tin plates, pannikins and “billy” tea, and a hole in the ground for cooking apparatus. A visit to some of the camps at present located at Sumner at once dispels this idea, as several of them are fitted up in luxurious fashion, and every comfort is provided.

Inside a large tent with four single beds, decorated with posters and picture postcards, with tallboy and mirror, trunks with flags,lamps and 'Myrtle Camp' sign, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-029347-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29945352
Inside a large tent with four single beds, decorated with posters and picture postcards, with tallboy and mirror, trunks with flags,lamps and ‘Myrtle Camp’ sign. [2]
On getting off the tram the first camp to come under notice is “The Geranium,” which is situated in a pretty spot, with fir trees on either side. On entering, the visitor is conducted into the dining-room, a frame tent, sixteen feet by eighteen feet, which is furnished throughout in the most approved fashion, including cheffonier, mirrors, ornaments, &c. Between this and the sleeping apartment, which is eighteen feet by ten feet, is a covered way about eight feet wide, and on one side of this is an American stove in which the camp cooking is done. The bedroom is tastefully arranged with Liberty muslin curtains, and the whole looks the picture of neatness. The camp is occupied by four young fellows, and since they went under canvas on Nov. 1 nearly 1100 persons have signed the visitors’ book.

In a sheltered spot further down the main street the Lily camp is situated, and here five young men have entertained no less than 850 visitors since they went into camp on Nov 25. The main tent, which is divided into dining and sleeping apartments is twenty-eight feet by fourteen feet, and is built on a frame which can be folded up. The walls are seven feet high and the tent is very lofty. The furnishings and decorations are all arranged with great taste, and the emblematic flower is worked on most of the articles used.

Inside a large tent set up as a dining room, with carpet, large table with chairs, piano and china cabinet with china, posters and framed pictures, unidentified camp, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-029346-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29942793
Inside a large tent set up as a dining room, with carpet, large table with chairs, piano and china cabinet with china, posters and framed pictures, believed to be in Sumner. [3]
On Sunday afternoons a number of lady visitors are always received, and on these occasions tea is served in the daintiest of eggshell china, while the tables are laid out in a manner that would do credit to ladies. Each member of the camp takes his turn at cooking, and it is astonishing what delicacies can be produced by untutored chefs. On a poll above the main tent is a handsome flag, with a monster lily, hand-painted, on it, the gift of some lady friends. Close by is the tent is which acts as a kitchen, and here is a stove and all necessary cooking appliances.

On the next section a board bears the legend “Welcome to the Daisy Camp,” and upon turning off the footpath a large bell tent is seen in a secluded spot amongst the trees. Here six young men are entertaining their friends, amongst whom are several ladies. This camp was established during the first week of December, and up to the present time there have been close upon two hundred visitors.

The majority of the camps are named after flowers, and amongst them are the Toi-toi, Forget-me-not, Ivy, Primrose, &c. There are also two camps established by young ladies, and suitably chaperoned. Towards the end of the present month a contingent of the Salvation Army, numbering over one hundred, is going under canvas at Sumner, and fresh camps are being established every day. A month or two under canvas in a pleasant change from city life, and full advantage is taken of the facilities offered for sea bathing. Most of the campers intend remaining at Sumner till the end of February. During the holidays some very good displays cf fireworks were arranged, as well as a number of amusements.

Geranium Camp for Auction. Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9679, 18 March 1897, Page 8
Geranium Camp for Auction. [4]
Three unidentified men, two with pompom caps, sitting at a table with food drinking tea, with piano accordion, pots and pans, basketball and stove in front, tent with clothing drying and 'Thistle' camp sign behind, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-029330-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29947668
Tam o’ Shanter and tea, with piano accordion, pots and pans, basketball and stove in front, tent with clothing drying and ‘Thistle’ camp sign. [5]
Seven unidentified boys sitting at a table having a cup of tea and cake with tents and washing line behind, trees beyond, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-028426-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29946428
Tea and cake with tents and washing line. [6]
Unidentified young men doing domestic chores next to tent 'Lily', at camp site, probably Sumner, Christchurch district. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-023461-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29947304
Domestic chores at ‘Lily’ camp site. [7]
Five unidentified young men in camping area with pots and table with cake, plates and cups, in front of a tent next to wooden fence, trees and hills beyond, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-029317-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29943344
Campers with pots and table with cake, plates and cups, in front of a tent next to wooden fence, trees and hills beyond. [8]
Four unidentified members of the Ke-Hora Camp, sitting at the table in front of the tent having a cup of tea and cakes, possibly Christchurch district, showing a accordion under the table on the left side. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-028808-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29945692
Members of the Ke-Hora Camp taking tea and cakes, and an accordion under the table. [9]
Four young unidentified men having a cup of tea and cake on a table in front of a tent with an accordion and 'Clover Camp' sign, trees beyond, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-028424-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29948354
More tea and cakes at the ‘Clover Camp’. [10]
Group portrait of young unidentified people with camping gear, having a cup of tea and cake in front of a tent with 'Clover Camp' sign, trees beyond, [Sumner?], Christchurch. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-028423-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29948084
Young people having a cup of tea and cake in front of ‘Clover Camp’. [11]
‘Sumner’, Star, Issue 4843, 8 January 1894, Page 1.

  1. All Photos by: Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 .
    Negatives. Ref: 1/1-028287-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29943522
  2. Image: Ref: 1/1-029347-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29945352
  3. Image: Ref: 1/1-029346-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29942793
  4. Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9679, 18 March 1897, Page 8
  5. Image: Ref: 1/1-029330-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29947668
  6. Image: Ref: 1/1-028426-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29946428
  7. Image: Ref: 1/1-023461-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29947304
  8. Image: Ref: 1/1-029317-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29943344
  9. Image: Ref: 1/1-028808-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29945692
  10. Image: Ref: 1/1-028424-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29948354
  11. Image: Ref: 1/1-028423-G. Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/29948084

 

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