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New Westminster Post Office Building 1882-1898

December 21, 2016

 

A Post Office at New Westminster was established in 1859, and until such time as local depots were opened in the smaller communities, it was the general Post Office for the Lower Mainland.

The Post Office was located  at the residence and offices of Stipendiary Magistrate WR Spalding.

In 1866 the city Post Office was moved to the Government building on Columbia Street at the corner of Mary Street (6th St).

The famous photo of this building and its public servants reveals a sorely neglected structure, much tbe worse for maintenance.

The Dominion of Canada took over the Postal service in 1871, but it was not until 1881 that a start was made on a new building.

 

“Post Office And Custom House

A contract for the construction of this buildig was entered into 8th December, 1881, and the works are now in progress.

The external wall will be of brick with dressings and foundations of stone.

The ground floor will be devoted to Post Office, Savings Bank and Telegraph Office, and the second floor to the Custom House.

Plans prepared by this Department. Contractor Mr Chas Hayward.”

 

For such an important building in the day to day life of the city, at such a prominent location, photos of the Post Office are scarce.  The building did not get much respect from an anonymous architecture critic in 1884:

 

post-office-building-1883-new-westminster

Post Office, New Westminster, 1884. Illus. from The West Shore.

“The public building used as a post office, custom house, savings bank, telegraph and other offices, by the Dominion, is a substantial edifice, though deficient of any claim to architectural beauty.

In appearance it is low and squatty, with a top entirely too heavy for its height.

Ottawa architects who prepare plans for buildings of this nature invariably commit the same blunder elsewhere as was done in New Westminster.

The interior of the P.O. for public accommodation is simply disgraceful to the architect who planned the building and such as recommended its adoption.

The second floor is better arranged, as the heads of the several departments to be located here took charge of the plans themselves. Their offices are a credit to the community.”

 

JC Brown, Postmaster from 1880 to 1900,worked most of the time in this building.

The two views below show the Post Office after destruction by fire inn 1898.  Note the fire hydrant in front, the standing utility pole and the leafy tree in the background. A small table was perhaps saved from this building or is being used as a place of business.

The small monument on the sidewalk in front of the Post Office was put in p!ace in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

 

new-westminster-post-office-6th-st-columbia-st-1898-after-fire

new-westminster-post-office-1898-after-fire

 


The two photos can be viewed in full at the Vancouver Archives.

There is a photograph of the Post Office In Jim Wolf’s Royal City – A Photographic History if Bew Westnubster


Local Post Offices

The first Postmaster on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia was Revenue Officer WH Bevis, appointed at Langley in 1858. He worked out of his own home.  Bevis relinquished the duties of Postmaster in 1859 and was transferred to the Revenue Station opposite Sapperton.

Brownsville Post Office was established in 1891 with first Postmaster John Beaton.

Timberland  Post Office, up the Yale Road hill at the junction (now King George Station) opened in 1906 with Agge Buck as Postmaster.

South Westminster, at the bottom of the Yale Road hill, opened in 1908, Postmaster HB Biggar.
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