Contents 1506-1759 1760-1840 1841-1867 1868-1899 1900-1919 1920-1950 1951 to the Present A Chronology of Canadian Postal History
1868-1899 - The Canadian Post Office in the New Dominion

1868 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1879 1881 1882 1884 1886 1888 1889 1890 1891 1894 1896 1897 1898 1899

  New legislation, An Act for the Regulation of the Postal Service, (SC31 Vic. [1867], c.10), effective 1 April, provides for a uniform postal system throughout the new Dominion.

image On 1 April, the Post Office Savings Bank system is put into operation.

  On July 15, Manitoba becomes the fifth province of the Dominion and postal service is extended to Fort Garry, Manitoba, from Windsor, Ontario, through the United States, by way of Detroit, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, St. Paul, Minnesota, and north to Manitoba via Pembina, North Dakota.

image During the siege of Paris, balloons are used to transport the mail out of the city and to prevent being cut off from the outside world.

  Prestamped, pictureless postcards are issued in Canada on 1 June. Cards are made available at a cost of one cent, which covers both the costs of the card and delivery to any address within the Dominion. These post cards cannot be posted twice. They can be registered with an ordinary two-cent postage stamp. In 1950, prestamped post cards are no longer sold at face value; a small premium is added to the face value of the postage to cover the production cost.

  British Columbia joins Canada and arrangements are made with the Post Office of the United States whereby mail to and from British Columbia is passed in closed bags through the United States mails between Windsor, Ontario, and Victoria, British Columbia, via San Francisco. Mail between San Francisco and Victoria, British Columbia, is initially carried fortnightly by steamship.

  A triweekly mail service is established by mail stage between Fort Garry, Manitoba, and Pembina, North Dakota, where it connects with the mail stages running to the railway terminus at St. Paul, Minnesota. Mail arrives in Ottawa from Fort Garry in about ten days.

  The Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago releases the first big U.S. mail-order catalogue.

  An arrangement between Canada and Newfoundland, effective 1 November, sets a uniform prepaid rate of six cents per one-half ounce (14 grams) on letters, instead of 12 ½ cents as before, and, providing that newspapers, books, printed matter, and postcards sent between Canada and Newfoundland are prepaid the ordinary Canada rate, they will be delivered to destinations in Newfoundland and Canada without further charge.

  Nova Scotia is connected to Canada by railway, thus providing continuous railway mail communication from Halifax to Ontario.

  Beginning 1 July, the money order system is extended to Fort Garry, Manitoba.

  Prince Edward Island joins Confederation on 1 July.

  Free letter carrier delivery service is introduced to Montréal on 1 October. In 1875, approval is granted to extend the service to Québec, Ottawa, Hamilton, Kingston, Saint John, Toronto, and Halifax.

  Stamp vendors outside of the Post Office system are permitted to sell postage stamps on a commission basis.

  "Return to sender" service becomes automatic for all undelivered mail when a return address is available.

image In October, a treaty for the formation of a General Postal Union (GPU) is signed in Bern, Switzerland. Known as the First Bern Postal Convention, it calls for the adoption of uniform postage rates and regulations for international correspondence. Canada is not a member of the GPU when the agreement is ratified. With the permission of the British government, however, the government of Canada directs the Postmaster General to take measures leading to the admission of Canada to the GPU, which occurs in 1878. The GPU is renamed the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1879.

  Red is adopted as the standard colour for mailboxes in the British Empire. The colour is known as "pillar box red" or "royal red."

image Home mail delivery begins in 1874 in Montréal.

  In Canada, new general postal regulations are introduced on 1 October. The first post bands or newspaper wrappers are introduced bearing a one cent impressed postage stamp. The "drop letter" rate becomes one cent per one-half ounce (14 grams) prepaid by postage stamp affixed to such letters when posted. Prepaid postage is mandated and unpaid letters are sent to the "dead letter" office. Double deficiency postage is introduced whereby short-paid mail is charged double the deficient amount and paid by the addressee.

  Registration stamps are introduced in November for prepayment of the registration charge.

  Government departments are granted free mail privileges, effective 1 October.

  Postmasters are required to supply their own wax, stamp pads, ink, cushions, and other stationery. In addition, they are expected to purchase pigeonholes, drawers, signs, letterboxes, and other fittings.

  Beginning 1 August, a 1400-km (900-mile) stage route is established between Winnipeg and Fort Edmonton. The trip takes 21 days one way.

  "Acknowledgement of receipt" or "AR" service on registered mail becomes available 1 April. There is a fee of five cents and the service is only available for international mail. The first reference to domestic use of the AR service is in 1892.

  The Money Order and Savings Bank branches are amalgamated. The position of General Superintendent of the Money Order and Savings Bank branches is established.

image Thomas Fuller succeeds Seaton Scott as Chief Architect at the department of Public Works.

image Construction of the Post Office at Hull, Quebec, begins under the direction of Thomas Fuller.

  On June 1, newspapers and periodicals printed and published in Canada are granted free transmission by post within the Dominion.

  The "reply postcard," one half of which is intended for the reply, is first issued for domestic use. Each half of the card is imprinted one cent.

  A regular post office is proposed for the western extremity of the track of the Canadian Pacific Railway; the office will move as the track extends westward. This railway post office becomes known variously as "Western Terminus," "End of Steel," or "End of Track." With the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the driving of the last spike at Craigellachie, British Columbia, the "End of Track" railway post office shuts down on 7 November 1885.

  The old Northwest Territories, the part west and north of Manitoba, is divided into the provisional districts of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Athabaska "for the convenience of settlers and for postal purposes."

image The Eaton Company, established at Toronto in 1869, issues its first mail-order catalogue.

image The Post Office department takes delivery of 16 brass rollers, or "revolving cancellers", from Pritchard and Andrews at a cost of $1.65 each.

  The first transcontinental train leaves Montréal on 28 June and arrives at Port Moody, British Columbia, on 4 July. With the already existing connections between Montréal and Halifax, an all-Canadian mail service is established.

  Beginning 1 August, parcel post begins operating between Canada and the United Kingdom for parcels not exceeding 1.3 kg (three pounds) in weight.

Government Savings Banks operating under the jurisdiction of the department of Finance are transferred to the Money Order and Savings Bank branch of the Post Office.

  Post Office Savings Banks are opened in British Columbia, starting 1 June 1888.

  Pre-cancelled stamps are first used about this time. These stamps are to be used for mailing quantities of 25 000 pieces of mail or more.

image The Railway Mail Clerks’Association meets for the first time. Around 1916, the Association becomes the Dominion Railway Mail Clerks’ Federation, and, later, about 1951, the union is renamed the Canadian Railway Mail Clerks’ Federation.

  The unit of weight for letters in Canada increases from a half ounce (14 grams) to one ounce (28 grams).

  A hand-to-hand delivery registration system is introduced and the registration fee increases from two cents to five cents.

  International registration is introduced to all countries. The registration fee is set at five cents in addition to postage.

image On 15 September, letter carriers form the Federated Association of Letter Carriers (FALC), which, in 1966, becomes the Letter Carriers’ Union of Canada (LCUC).

image A post office is established in La Trappe, Quebec. An elaborate-looking sorting case is installed at about this time.

  In the United States, free rural delivery begins in October.

  Perforated stamps with the initials of an individual or commercial firm are permitted.

  Electric mail marking machines (cancellation machines) are introduced into the Montréal and Ottawa Post Offices. This is the first step in the mechanization of mail sorting.

image Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, names Sir William Mulock Postmaster General on 13 July.

  In honour of the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria, Canada’s first commemorative stamps are issued. The set consists of stamps and a special one-cent postcard. The stamps are in denominations of ½, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 15, 20, and 50 cents, and $1.00, $2.00, $3.00, $4.00, and $5.00.

  Approval is given for the establishment of a monthly mail service to the Yukon.

  The position of Controller of Railway Mail Service is created.

image Beginning of 50 years of policies and reforms that are decisive in the history of postal communications in Canada, thanks to three Deputy Postmasters General: Robert Miller Coulter (1 August 1897 to 1923), Louis-Joseph Gaboury (17 August 1923 to 1935) and Joseph Alexander Sullivan (1935 to 1945).

image In Alaska, the first American post office opens its doors on 23 July 1867, three months before Alaska is officially turned over to the U.S in 1897. This first office, with John H. Kinkead as Postmaster, opens at Sitka in southeast Alaska. After that quick start, however, the service expands only sporadically during the next three decades, mirroring the slow growth of Alaska’s non-native population. When the discovery of gold in the Yukon is made public, that changes. Although the Yukon gold fields are in Canada, tens of thousands pass through Alaska on their way in. As the mass concentration of people inches along the passes from Dyea and Skagway, Alaska, over the mountains and down the Yukon River, they look to the postal services in Canada and the U.S. to provide a link back to their homes and families.

  Braille books for the blind mailed anywhere in Canada are exempt from postage.

  Effective 1 July, the "dead letter" branch is decentralized. Branch offices open in Charlottetown, Saint John, Halifax, Québec, Sherbrooke, Montréal, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Winnipeg, and Victoria. Fifty years later, in November 1948, it is announced that the dead letter office is centralized at Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. In January 1954, the dead letter office is renamed the "undeliverable mail office."

image The first Christmas stamp in the world is issued by Canada. Also known as the "map stamp," it is the first multi-coloured stamp issued by Canada.

  Special delivery service for letters is inaugurated on 1 July.

  The "postal note system" is introduced on 4 August to provide the public with a cheap and convenient means of remitting small sums of money.

  Effective 25 December, Imperial penny postage is established at a rate of two cents per half ounce (14 grams).

image Funds in the amount of $5000 are voted by Parliament for the purchase of two automobiles to be used by the Post Office in Toronto.

The cars were supposed to be used to transfer bulky loads of mail between Union Station and Terminal A, the city’s largest sorting facility at the time. They were also to be used to help empty the street letter boxes. In fact, the cars were never purchased. Instead, the Post Office bought six quadricyles—a kind of motorized bicycle—the following year.