Toronto’s First Post Office is worth writing home about

The very first thing you discover about Toronto’s First Post Office is that you just’ve in all probability by no means observed it earlier than.

You’ll have handed the doorway at 260 Adelaide St. E. that sported an indication declaring it a submit workplace, however you possible didn’t know you had been so near the identical steps climbed by William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor.

Mackenzie was a daily customer to the constructing, constructed in 1833, the primary submit workplace in an included Toronto. It remained a submit workplace for less than six years, and the TFPO has commemorated these glory days since 1983 by functioning as each a museum and a postal service.

(Examine different Toronto Landmarks, United Bakers and Chinatown’s Tap Phong.)

Built in 1833, the very first Toronto Post Office.

“It’s a group museum that teaches Torontonians not simply concerning the historical past of written communication however about how individuals lived again then,” says Kat Akerfeldt, executive director of the TFPO, which is managed by the Town of York Historical Society, a non-profit and charitable group with 500 members.

This historic web site goals to recreate the environment loved by early Toronto residents, by together with such features as a studying room with chairs and desks, a spot the place some of us wanted assist studying and writing mail attributable to illiteracy. On one wall of the room is the “Royal Mail Postal Service: 1830-1840,” a everlasting exhibit that options maps of mail routes, photographs of mail coaches and ferries, and instruments of the letter-writing commerce reminiscent of goose-quill pens and ink wells.

“Within the ‘earlier than instances,’ we hosted letter-writing workshops with these pens and ink, which inspired loads of faculty teams, since so many youngsters don’t write letters any longer,” says Akerfeldt, including that the museum additionally conducts neighbourhood walks and digital creator talks on Toronto historical past.

For more than 100 years, 260 Adelaide St. E., was used for different businesses, including 40 years as a cold-storage facility. It wasn't until 1979 that a photo of a painting showing what the building looked like a century earlier did the new buyers learn they had purchased Toronto's first post office.

The small again room shows a topographic scale mannequin of the Metropolis of Toronto circa 1837, with the unique names of Queen Avenue (Lot Avenue) and Wellington Avenue (Market Avenue) listed amid blocks that look nothing just like the retail and rental developments we all know right this moment. As an alternative, swaths of greenery and bushes lined downtown streets.

Close to the entrance desk and wall of energetic mailboxes, a number of notices from the 1830s dot a framed exhibit, that includes adverts for steamboat journeys, warnings in opposition to mail thieves and a classic checklist of people that nonetheless want to choose up their mail.

“Again you then wouldn’t come day-after-day to see when you had mail, however you would possibly see a discover within the newspaper that lists your identify as somebody who has mail to learn,” says Akerfeldt. “This was a metropolis stuffed with younger residents who might have travelled midway all over the world to be right here. In order that they positively needed to be in contact with their household again house.”

The museum within Toronto’s First Post Office has a varied collection of memoribilia on display, such as goose-quill pens and ink wells and notices warning against mail thieves and alerting people to pick up their mail.

Since few individuals lived in Toronto within the 1830s (some estimates say 9,000), Akerfeldt saved seeing the identical names crop up on historic paperwork. “I noticed Mackenzie rather a lot; he had a submit workplace field right here,” she says, “and so did William Allan, a former postmaster and the primary president of the Financial institution of Higher Canada.”

This constructing carries extra historical past than simply its postal legacy, nevertheless. After its preliminary iteration as a submit workplace, in 1873 it grew to become a part of a Roman Catholic boys’ faculty — De La Salle Faculty — and was later owned by biscuit producer Christie, Brown and Firm. The house was then used as a cold-storage facility for a farmer co-op for almost 40 years.

However within the late ’70s, every little thing modified for 260 Adelaide St. E. And it began with {a photograph}.

In 1979, a yr after a hearth devastated the roof, lawyer Sheldon Godfrey purchased the combo of buildings at 252-264 Adelaide St. E. His spouse, Judy, quickly took an curiosity in his sideline enterprise whereas working as a physiotherapist. She reportedly remarked she “shifted from rehabilitating individuals to rehabilitating buildings.”

The museum within Toronto’s First Post Office has a varied collection of memoribilia on display, such as goose-quill pens and ink wells and notices warning against mail thieves and alerting people to pick up their mail.

Judy spent hours on the Reference Library’s Baldwin Assortment of Canadiana, studying about restorations and poring over architectural designs for inspiration. After recognizing a photograph of a portray displaying how 260 Adelaide seemed as Toronto’s first submit workplace, she realized it was one among her husband’s new purchases.

So started 4 years of renovations that finally noticed TFPO opens its doorways in 1983, because of the Godfreys in addition to the City of York Historic Society. At this time, the constructing is owned by Allied Properties REIT, which additionally owns the neighbouring properties.

If there’s any historical past buff greatest suited to debate the early days of Toronto, it’s Akerfeldt, who’s labored at TFPO since 2006 and has held positions at Mackenzie Home, Gibson Home and Market Gallery. “I’m my household’s archivist, I purchase loads of antiques, and I like studying previous mail,” she says with amusing. “And I believe it’s necessary for Toronto to have small-m museums like ours which might be very a lot a part of the group.”



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