Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Richmond Post Office, 1898

As Canada Post continues with its rotating strikes, in the age of email and Facebook, I have a story to tell about the Richmond, Quebec Post Office.

Last week, while writing Flora in the City, where they "walk to the mail" twice daily, I tried to find info on the Internet about how they actually picked up their mail. I wanted to see what the inside of a 1900 post office looked like. No luck, though.

But then looking over my website, I found a page where I had scanned and posted a letter Norman wrote in 1898 with respect to the new Richmond Post Office. He was employed as inspector, and, of course, kept details.

The letter was inquiring about whether there should be locked drawers under the wickets.

Anyway, I went through the Nicholson stash of documents and found his booklet of accounts during that time it took to build the building, late 1896 to 1898. He was paid 62.oo a month for working as inspector. (At the same time he was working selling trees for bark and pulp and collected for a Dr. Stewart.)

The booklet claims the post office at Richmond cost 10,500, or that was the contract price to Paquet et Godbout. Then there was the cost of the boiler, (coal)243.44, with shipping,plus a few other costs.

In the same booklet Norman has the cost of building tighsolas, 2817.35. He insured the house for only 1,500, so I image that was the cost of the mortgage. He paid 90 a year, in October, until his death in 1922.

The place had 340 lock boxes.

I also found a receipt for a registered letter he sent in 1899. No. 161, so that's how many Registered Letters sent since the opening, I take it. The Post Master was a Mr Desmarais and according to a note on the back, it was not his responsiblity to put stamps on letters.

Well, this doesn't tell me that much. I have no letters addressed to the Nicholsons for a PO box. And no payment for one in any of the account books.

I assume they walked up those stairs (I assume the building above was the post office ) and ask for the mail from a person. Almost every day. They must have been the family with the most mail in Richmond.

Maybe I'll make the 1911 Post Master joke about that one day. His name according to the 1911 census was JP Denison and he was 72! and made 1,500 a year, but he boarded in the house on Main of a the Boasts (blacksmith and wife) and their kids. She couldn't have been his daughter as she was 15 years younger only.

Oddly, where Mr. Boast was supposed to put income, 1,500 is written and erased. Perhaps he was out of work being 62 and the post master supported the house for some reason.

I found a few other people with decent salaries, carriage maker 1400, for instance. And engineer at Railroad, 12 and 1400 a year.

The fact that they built a new post office building in Richmond shows something. How were they to know that in 1910 so many citizens would be moving away!