Mail Service in Elk Point
Mail service in early Elk Point was anything but good. There was no set time when the mail would arrive or when it was dispatched. The mail arrived from Vermilion by carrier, to the Elk Point post office which was first opened up by Charles Hood in 1909. Prior to this time. some of our early settlers had to go all the way to Vegreville to get their mail since there was no ferry over the North Saskatchewan River near Elk Point prior to 1908.
The first mail carrier between Vermilion and Elk Point was Alf Monkman. In the early days, he brought mail to Elk Point once a week and picked up the outgoing mail at the same time. The roads were never kept open during the winter and so he had to make his deliveries by sleigh. In the summer he used a Model T truck. At that time, the road to Vermilion was a mere trail and after a severe rainstorm it was almost impossible to make his run. Besides making the mail run, Mr. Monkman also operated his own store and post office just a short distance southeast of present day Derwent. It was known as Monkman Post Office and Store, and served the people in that district for many years. As his establishment was half way between Elk Point and Vermilion it served as a stopover bouse where the settlers could rest and feed their teams and even spend the night there if they so desired.
Mr. Monkman handled the mail route for a number of years until it was taken over by Walter Johnson. He not only delivered mail to Elk Point but also to the many rural post offices which had sprung up in the district. This arrangement existed until the coming of the railway in 1927. After this time the railway took over the mail shipments and mail started arriving from Edmonton. The mail arrived in Elk Point on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday trains and was dispatched on the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday trains.
Just prior to the coming of the railway, Joseph Quinn had taken over the post office from Charles Hood. He also had the location changed from the east end of Elk Point to a new location on Main Street just across the street from MacDonald's Drug Store. Joseph Quinn held the position of postmaster until the late 1930s when he died on the station platform after suffering a severe heart attack. His wife Ruth carried on and eventually her son Robert (Bob) Quinn took over as postmaster. In those days, people had to call for their mail at the post office wicket between nine in the morning and six at night. There were only a few wooden constructed mailboxes and most of them were assigned to places of business. Later additional metal boxes were installed for the general public.
During the period after the first World War you could, mail a postcard to any place in Canada for one half cent, later it was increased to a penny. First class mail at that time went out for two cents, this was later raised to four cents where it remained for a number of years. The highest priced stamp at that time was the one dollar stamp. The early varieties of stamps were a real work of art, especially the 1927 issue. This attractive edition depicted the Parliament Buildings, the Bluenose Schooner, the Quebec Bridge, a prairie harvesting scene, and a view of the mountains.
In the late 1920s there were many smaller rural post offices built in our district. The early settlers of the Lindbergh area first got their mail at the Tyrol post office. This post office changed its name to Mooswa. and later to Lindbergh. Other country post offices were named Primrose, Spring Park, Shamrock Valley, Orvilton, Lake Eliza, Caskeyville, Hopkins and Armistice. Some of the post offices across the river were named Northern Valley, Peat, Angle Lake, Gratz and Primula. These post offices are all closed with the exception of Lindbergh, which is presently operated jointly with a garage. The names of all the above mentioned post offices are seldom heard of anymore and eventually they will be forgotten.
With the coming of the automobile, people found it more convenient to get their mail in town where they did their shopping, and for this reason the rural country post offices, were forced to close down.