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Throwback Thursday: Mail posted via steamship and stagecoach

Saturday's event celebrates 125 years of a post office in Steveston
Steveston museum archive
In 1905 the Northern Crown Bank was built at the corner of Moncton Street and Second Avenue. In 2015 it is now the Steveston museum and post office. Photo from Richmond Archives

On Saturday, Tourism Richmond, the Steveston Historical Society and Canada Post are hosting a celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Steveston post office.

It just so happens that even a brief history of the Steveston post office will have any person gasping for air, given how many times it changed venues (12 in total) and nearly closed.

One thing is constant, however; the post office always required a second business to latch on to.

William Herbert Steves, the great uncle of Coun. Harold Steves, established the post office on May 1, 1890, in a building on the south end of Second Avenue, after the Lulu Island post office had moved to the government pier at the end of No. 2 Road. However, the first day of operations was the following day on May 2 due to a postal strike.

The post office initially doubled as Steves’ seed store as it received mail by steam ship from New Westminster.

Another method of mail delivery was the horse and carriage stagecoach. In 1891 the coach transported people twice a day to and from Vancouver, with Chinese and First Nations people relegated to the back seats.

In 1902, as Steveston’s population hovered around 500, the Canadian Pacific Railway took over mail delivery to Vancouver with the new Steveston tram.

The post office moved several times over the decades. At one point postal services were offered in the Walker Emporium building, which now has the title Marine Garage, at the northeast corner of Second and Moncton Street.

The post office was also held in the Hepworth building (or the Steveston Drugs building) which now holds retail shops (Nikaido, Splash Toys and Pieces). 

In 1918, because of a massive fire in the village, the Sockeye Hotel (now the Steveston Hotel) temporarily hosted postal services.

Arthur Parker was as one of the longest serving postmasters in Richmond, issuing mail from 1908 to 1940 as he doubled up as lighthouse keeper at Garry Point Park.

Alice Windsor was the second — and longest standing — female postmaster from 1961 to 1972, when the post office operated out of the building that now houses Dave’s Fish and Chips on Moncton.

The post office moved around even more, thereafter, operating out of a dry cleaner, florist and appliance shop (now Budget Appliances). Eventually, in 1979, the post office found its existing home in the Steveston Museum, which was once a bank, beginning in 1905. At that point the Steveston Historical Society became the postmaster.

The existing building began as the Northern Crown Bank until it became a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada in 1923. The branch moved to its existing building across the street.

Presently Tourism Richmond, in conjunction with the society, operates the post office and the city operates the museum portion of the building. 

Festivities for the celebration run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


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