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Postal Service in Southern Alberta

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts Pages 49 - 51
by Ernest Snowden

Prior to May 8, 1884, mail delivery to the hamlet of Lethbridge was haphazard. Mail was sorted and picked up from the coal company's office. On May 8, 1884, Elliott Galt submitted a petition praying for the establishment of postal facilities at the Lethbridge Colliery. The Postmaster General instructed Postal Inspector, W. W. Mcleod of Winnipeg, to establish a mail service from Medicine Hat to Fort Macleod via Lethbridge. By June 1, 1884, tri weekly stage and mail service was in operation.

The narrow gauge railway line to Dunmore was built in 1885. McLeod proposed that mail for Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek and New Oxley (Claresholm) be sent by it to Lethbridge and then west by stagecoach.

On October 14, 1885, the government authorized the establishment of a Post Office under the name of Coalhurst at Lethbridge with Mr. H. F. Greenwood as Postmaster. The name Coalhurst was later dropped and it became the Lethbridge Post Office. Thanks to C.A. Magrath, then Member of parliament, the government agreed to build a post office building. The west and north elevations of the new edifice were expensively faced with stone cut from quarries at Tyndale, Manitoba. Completed late in 1914, the building provided space for post office, customs and other federal services. In 1916 the government installed a clock in the tower. The elaborate structure, grandiose in design, became a prominent landmark and source of pride to Lethbridgians.

Although home delivery came to city residents, and some rural districts did establish rural route delivery, the residents of rural southeast Lethbridge continued to use the Lethbridge Post Office to post and pick up their mail, either by General Delivery wicket or by box. My dad had Box 181 for as long as I can remember, at a cost of $2.00 a year. When Dad and I became partners it was in the name of Snowden & Son and the cost had increased to $7.00 a year. (City residents had their mail delivered to their homes at no cost, while country residents paid a fee for the privilege of picking up their mail at the post office.) When dad and mother moved into the city, Box 181 remained in my name at no charge for the last number of years. However, as of Dec. 1, 1992, I had the option of retaining Box 181 at a cost, or receiving my mail at the Rural Delivery Box for free. I chose the latter.

Lethbridge Daily Herald, 1920

Bids for Rural Mail Delivery Service Too High

Bids On Only Two local Routes Received -- Tri-Weekly Service Now Proposed

In the matter of postal facilities in the rural district, it is clearly a case of it being up to the farmers and other residents in the district to come forward and cooperate in a scheme which will be of benefit to them. This is shown by the tenders asked for in regard to mail delivery in rural routes one, two, three, and four out of Lethbridge. In the case of routes one and four there have been no tenders submitted for the contracts, and in routes two and three the bids made are considered too high by the postal authorities.

The contracts called for are for four days in the week, which no doubt affected the replies. The altering of the deliveries of mail to three days a week instead of four days will possibly make a difference, in that two routes can be taken up by the same party, meaning six days regular work in the week instead of cutting up the week into four days. This will be a better paying arrangement than the proposed one.

There is not a doubt that the postal authorities will be willing to consider the three days a week in regard to all of the routes, if by this means contracts can be obtained. This matter should be considered by farmers or others who are in a position to give the service, and they should see the postmaster at the Lethbridge post office in regard to the same.

No. 1 route is for the Kipp district, west of Lethbridge; No. 2 route for the Wilson Side district, southeast of the city; No. 3 route covers the district east of Diamond City, northeast of Lethbridge; No. 4 route is for the district east-from Coaldale.

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Mary Tollestrup