Communication is just as important now as it was when settlers began to pour into what is now Bruce County in the late 1840s and early 1850s. To maintain communication with family in other parts of Canada, and Europe, post offices were established in communities – the earliest being in Kincardine and Southampton in 1851. Bruce’s first postal route was in 1852 and went from Durham to Kincardine. This route had two stops, one in Brant (later Walkerton) and the other Greenock (in the village in Enniskillen). The first mail carrier was Cowan Keys of Huron Township who went from Kincardine to Durham once a week. Due to the rough poor condition of the roads, horses couldn’t be used, and Keys made the trip on foot carrying the mail in a backpack or satchel. After about a year, the route was divided and Keys walked between Kincardine and the Greenock post office, where he met a Mr. Hunter who went between there and Durham.
As more and more communities developed, and the population got larger, more post offices were established, and most communities had one at one time. Here are some of the post offices that are represented in the collections and Archives.
Aberdour – Turner’s Corners
The post office known at Aberdour was established prior to the 1870s and was run out of the house of Donald Christie, Lot 26, Concession 4, Saugeen Township. Christie walked to Burgoyne to retrieve the mail once a week. This small office closed around 1913, and the mail was re-routed to Port Elgin. The area of Saugeen Township served by the Aberdour post office, is known as Turner’s Corners, and when a post office was re-established 1931, it was called Turner’s Corners rather than Aberdour.
The new Turner’s Corners post office was located one lot over from the original, on Lot 27, Concession 4, Saugeen Township and ran by Adam Munro until his death in 1949. Munro’s daughter took over until 1951, then his widow form 1951 until 1956. Keith Snyder took over as Postmaster in 1956 and ran the office until 1961, when the post office was closed, and the mail re-routed through Paisley. This mail organizer is the one used by Donald Christie in the Aberdour post office.
Dumblane – Dunblane
The post office in the community of Dunblane was first called Dumblane and was opened in 1856 by William Wallace. Also serving the small community of Ebenezer, the office was located on the property of the John Fraser, and when William Wallace left in 1857, John Fraser took over and ran the office out of his home. John was postmaster until his death in 1872 and the role was taken up by his son Donald, until 1881. Archibald Armstrong acted as postmaster for around a year, then John McFarlane until the office closed in 1890. The office was re-opened in 1892 and run by Isabella McNeil until her death in 1921.
Why the post office was called Dumblane when the community is Dunblane, isn’t quite clear, and is thought to have been a misspelling, though some maps and charts show the name Dumblane. In 1890, stamps were issued with both Dumblane and Dunblane and were used interchangeably, which furthered the use of the ‘m’ rather than the ‘n’. The mail organizer seen here was used by members of the Fraser family during their time as post masters.
Kincardine’s post office was the second to be established in Bruce County, opening in June of 1851. The office was opened by David McKendrick after he opened a small store the same year. At the time the post office was established, the town of Kincardine was known as Penetangore. The town was renamed to Kincardine in 1857, matching the original name of the post office.
McKendrick ran the post office until 1857, when it was taken over by his son Mathew, who in turn ran the office until 1892, when it was taken over by Robert Baird. Baird was postmaster until 1907.
This photo from the Scougall Collection, shows the Kincardine post office decorated with flags and bunting for an event. It dates between 1907 and 1922.
The first post office in Lucknow opened July 1, 1860, and was run by Malcolm Campbell, who held the role of Postmaster until his death in 1901. Malcolm’s widow, Mary took over until 1914, when Harvey Lindsay was appointed Postmaster, a position he held for thirty years. Kenneth Cameron served from1948 until 1971 and then Carrie Mile from 1971 to 1982.
In 1915, the rural mail system was introduced and many small community post offices were closed. This made Lucknow the main post office for the area. The post office changed locations in 1939, and in 1981, a ramp was added to the front for accessibility purposes. This photograph found in the Carol Homuth Fonds, shows the post office at its second location between 1950 and 1970.
Normanton – Port Elgin
The post office known as Normanton was established in Port Elgin in 1854 by H.R. Kennedy, who backed by the townspeople petitioned the Post Office department to establish post office. Kennedy the first store owner in Saugeen Township took on the role of Normanton’s first postmaster. Locals didn’t like the name Normanton, and in 1874, when the Town of Port Elgin was incorporated, the post office name changed to match the town.
Archibald Roy became the postmaster in 1868 and ran the Normanton post office out of his home on the corner of Mill and Bricker Streets. The Roy family would continue to be the postmasters of Normanton/Port Elgin’s post office for nearly a century. Roy’s son, Henry took over in 1870, and held the post until his death in 1916. The role of Postmaster was then taken up by another son, James until 1936. Roy’s daughter Marion, acted as postmistress until the 1950s. This postal scale was used by members of the Roy family.
Saugeen – Southampton
Located in Southampton, Saugeen was Bruce County’s first established post office, opening April 1851, with the first postmaster being Robert Reid. Thomas Lee became the postmaster in 1857 and held the position until his death in 1901. The Saugeen post office had its name changed to Southampton in 1890. Upon Lee’s death, his wife Mary, operated the post office until 1913 when their son Frederick H. became postmaster. Fred Lee was postmaster until 1935. During this time the Lees also operated the wireless/telegram office. Jane Alexandria Lee was postmistress until 1936, when John Joseph Clancy became postmaster, and then James Joseph Clancy from 1950 to 1982.
The Southampton post office provided service to Burgoyne and Chippawa Hill. The post office had several locations – the first burned with much of the downtown area in the 1886 fire. The townspeople saved much of the inside of the post office including the mail and furniture from the fire. It was then located near the corner of Albert and High Streets. In 1914, land was purchased by the government at the corner of High and Grosvenor Streets for a post office, however the building was never built and opened until 1953. The mail wicket seen here is from the Southampton post office when it was located near the corners of High and Albert Streets and run by the Lee family.
Brant – Walkerton
The Brant post office was opened in 1852, and the first postmaster was John Shennan, who was the first store owner in Walkerton. After a year, Shennan relinquished the role of postmaster to Malcolm McLean who had previous post office experience. Mclean held the role for 52 years, until 1905. Mclean for his years of uninterrupted service holds the record for the longest serving postmaster in Ontario, and the second longest in Canada. In 1857, the name of the post office changed to Walkerton. The photo of the Walkerton post office seen here dates between 1905 and 1925.