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Westbourne Post Office (1902)

Westbourne Post Office

The Westbourne post office was constructed by E. A. Smalley who was the post master for 35 years. This office used to handle all the mail for northwestern Manitoba when it was still the “postage stamp” province. The building was moved to the Homesteader’s Village in 1972 and was restored and opened to the public in 1973.

The post office is authentically furnished with original mail bags, roll-top desk, coal oil lamps and an ornate cook stove with a jug on top for boiling coffee. The postmaster, Mr. Smalley, was so short that he had to use a chair to stand on so he could see through the wicket.

Inside Westbourne Post Office

The heavy white canvas bag was durable enough to endure the train ride. It was quickly fastened, taken to the train station and dumped on the platform.

From 1870 to 1885, postal service in Canada was rather hit and miss. Mail was often delivered by hand and it was not uncommon for a letter to take a year to arrive. In 1885, the completion of the Trans-Continental Railway improved postal service not only at Westbourne but also throughout the Dominion.

Manitoba when it joined Confederation in 1870 was only 1/8 the surface area than it is today. As it was relatively small and square it was known as the “postage stamp” province. The Provincial boundaries were expanded in 1881 and again in 1912 when it achieved the boundaries it has currently.

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