Fonds F 0161 - Mike Skreptak collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Mike Skreptak collection

General material designation

  • Graphic material

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Reference code

F 0161

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Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1863 - ca. 1998; predominantly 1900s (Creation)
    Skreptak, Mike

Physical description area

Physical description

2, 271 postcards
40 photographs: 26 b&w prints; 1 b&w tintype; 12 col. prints; 1 sepia print
13 artifacts (tokens, medallions, badges, etc.)
6.5 cm textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1949 - 2021)

Biographical history

Michael George (“Mike”) Skreptak (1949 - 2021) was born in and lived most of his life in Windsor, Ontario. He attended John Campbell Public School and W.D. Lowe Secondary School before pursuing post-secondary education in chemical technology at the Western Ontario Institute of Technology (as of 1967 part of St. Clair College). He then trained as a police officer at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer and pursued additional qualifications and training at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa and New York Fire College.

After youthful jobs in magazine delivery and the Dominion supermarket, Skreptak spent ten months working as a chemical technician at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (Burlington, Ontario) before being hired by the Windsor Police Department. He spent 32 years with the Windsor police, the last 21 of them in the Forensic Branch where he was involved in crime scene photography, collecting evidence, plan drawings, lab work, court presentations, lineups, and more. Over the course of Skreptak’s career he saw dramatic changes in the nature of police forensic work, including the introduction of technologies such as computers, digital photography, alternate light sources, Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD), and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). After his retirement, he provided photography and fire scene plan drawing services to a private fire investigator. His professional memberships included the Michigan Ontario Identification Society and the Canadian Identification Society.

In his private life, Mike Skreptak was involved in a variety of community organizations, serving as a Cub Scout leader, member of the Lakeshore Photo Group, and member of the “Another Fine Mess” tent of the Sons of the Desert (a Laurel and Hardy film appreciation society). He was also a longtime member of Lakeshore St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. Skreptak was an avid collector of local history with a focus on Windsor and Essex County, the Windsor Police Service, and to a lesser extent Chatham-Kent. Second World War-era items were also of interest to him, especially ones related to naval corvettes, aircraft, and railways. Skreptak primarily collected photographs, postcards, maps, and brochures. For many years, this involved him (and often his wife Wendy Skreptak) visiting flea markets and antique stores during vacations or while he was out of town on police business. In later years online venues such as eBay made it much easier to locate relevant items, but Skreptak missed the thrill of the hunt out on the road. In 2020 he explained his passion for collecting historical ephemera and images by writing, “I always had interest in old things. How they looked and worked.” He added that his professional interest in the “preservation of evidence … carried over to preserving the past.” Donating his collections of photographs and postcards allowed him, he said, to “make it available to everyone.”

Sources: Personal correspondence between Archivist Sarah Glassford and Mike Skreptak, December 2020.

Scope and content

This fonds consists primarily of historic postcards depicting landscapes, buildings, attractions, infrastructure, and vehicles in the region of Southwestern Ontario, with a particular focus on Windsor and Essex County. Many of the postcards are undated, but formats include hand-tinted Early Twentieth Century (ca. 1900-1914) and White Border (ca.1914-1932) styles, as well as Linen (ca.1933-early 1950s), Standard/Chrome (ca. mid-1950s-1970s), and Continental/Modern (ca. 1970s - present) styles. Also included are a small number of photographs and ephemera items including arrest warrants, tokens, medallions, patches, maps, brochures, tickets, and advertisements, all relating to local people, businesses, events, or locations.

The years 1900 to 1914 were a so-called Golden Age for postcards in North America, thanks to the popularity of photography and mass production techniques that made them an affordable collectible item. Views of all kinds were produced, including residential neighbourhoods, churches and civic buildings, commercial districts, industrial plants, bridges, and landscapes. From 1900 into the 1930s, many postcards were black-and-white photographs with colour added. In subsequent decades glossy colour photographs became the norm, and a narrower range of views were produced (often depicting popular tourist sites, where they were sold as souvenirs). By the 1970s most North American postcards shifted from the traditional small size (8.5 x 14cm) to the larger European (“Continental”) size (10 x 15.5cm) and continued to feature a small range of local tourist attractions. All of these trends are reflected in the postcards contained in this fonds.

Physical condition

Many items show ordinary wear and tear; some postcards may have a small amount of water damage.


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Script of material

Language and script note

English: several items in French; one item in Polish.

Location of originals

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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright retained by creators. Many of the older images and ephemera are now in the public domain.

Finding aids

A finding aid is available.

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Associated materials

F 0163 Southwestern Ontario postcard collection

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No further accruals are expected.

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