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Blog > The Little Mail Carriers at Toronto's First Post Office!

The Little Mail Carriers continue their adventures around the world, and this time they’ve received an invitation they could not refuse… to explore Toronto’s First Post Office! They jumped at the opportunity to discover this historical institution, which is both a museum and a post office and is also regularly visited by the local postcrossers. Kat Akerfeldt is a curator at the museum and kindly offered to show the little ones around.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Hi everyone! We’ve just arrived here at Toronto’s First Post Office, but it seems like we came at a very busy time of year! To make us feel right at home, Kat put us to work in the Post Office, sorting mail and making sure that everything went into the correct box.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Toronto’s First Post Office is a museum, and looks just as it did in 1833. That was when the city’s first Postmaster, James Scott Howard, built the town’s first brick Post Office. At that time, everyone in Toronto collected their mail from this Post Office – there was no home delivery then. Most letters would be sorted alphabetically until the recipients called for them. Only a few people had their own P.O. box, with a window with a number painted on the glass. These were for Toronto’s early government, business, and religious leaders, for they received the most mail.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Today, Toronto’s First Post Office still runs a full-service Post Office, and offers P.O. boxes to rent to members of the Town of York Historical Society. It’s the only postal museum in Canada, and the only Post Office in Toronto to offer a pictorial cancellation mark, so they get a lot of visitors who want to send interesting happy mail — including lots of postcrossers as well! The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The museum gift shop sells a very interesting selection of vintage stamps. While perusing them, we noticed this small collection of stamps that commemorate Canada’s Confederation. In 1867, representatives from provinces in British North America agreed, after many meetings and conferences, to become a united country, the Dominion of Canada. In 2017, Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation! The history was fascinating, so we got into the library to investigate further…

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

… but soon emerged again to find out what all the noisy excitement was about. Turns out, a school group had arrived and wanted to learn to write letters as they did in the 1830s in Toronto. We learned that writing with goose quill pens isn’t always easy, and that blobs will happen! The Postmistress reminded the class to keep a light hand, keep the paper flat on the table, and keep the pen moving!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post OfficeThe Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

When the letters were dried with pounce (a sand, sprinkled onto the ink, which helps to dry it quickly), the students folded their letters and sealed them with red sealing wax. In the 1830s, you had to pay postage on every piece of paper, so you didn’t waste paper or postage on an envelope! The letter becomes its own cover. Finally, the letters were stamped with a historic cancellation. In the 1830s, Postmaster Howard didn’t like the quality of black ink, so his was the only post office in the province of Upper Canada allowed to use red ink.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The date on the cancellation mark is historic in itself! It says “March 6”, which is Toronto’s birthday! March 6, 1834, was the date that Toronto became the first city in Upper Canada. Before 1834, Toronto was known as the Town of York. And before 1793, as early European settlers came to the area, this place on the shores of Lake Ontario was known as Toronto. Toronto is from the native Mohawk language, and was sometimes spelled Taranteau or Tkaronto. In 1793, Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, moved the capitol away from the American border to Toronto, renamed the settlement after the Duke of York, and started a lot of development, including creating a map of his new Town – two blocks up and five blocks across. When Simcoe first came to Toronto/York, there were 241 people living here. By 1834, when it became a city, there were 9252 people living here. It had grown very quickly, but it didn’t stop there… Today, Toronto is nearly 3 million people!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Later in our visit, we heard some very exciting news: every year, the Town of York Historical Society and Toronto’s First Post Office celebrate becoming a city with a gala celebration! This year marked the city’s 183rd birthday, and the celebration also honoured Canada’s sesquicentennial. A party was held at St. Lawrence Hall, which was built in 1851 as Toronto’s first big concert venue. During its early history, the Hall hosted debates on Canadian Confederation, was a terminus for the Underground Railroad, and the venue for three sold-out performances by Swedish superstar Jenny Lind. In 1967, the Hall was restored, and is now a National Historic Site.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

On March 6, 2017, the evening included lively music written in 1867 and 1967 (the number 1 song in Canada in 1967 was “The Letter”, which we thought was very appropriate!), rousing speeches on Toronto’s history, and a very popular auction of goods and services from local businesses! Toronto’s First Post Office and St. Lawrence Hall are very close to the St. Lawrence Market, which is full of amazing food artisans, who very kindly supplied all kinds of good things to eat. We especially enjoyed the very Canadian delicacy – and very sticky – butter tarts!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

What an evening! After all the excitement, we were ready for some relaxation back at the Post Office. We settled in the Reading Room, in front of the fireplace, with our best pens and rubber stamps, to write some letters and postcards to our favourite people. After all, how else would we enjoy a quiet moment?

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Thank you so much Kat and everyone at Toronto’s First Post Office, for taking such good care of the little ones! 😊  Where will they go next?

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28 comments so far

betslets, United States of America
Thank you, as always, for contributing so much to my enjoyment of Postcrossing. Love the Little Mail Carriers -- wish I had half of their energy.
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marica_t, United States of America
What a fun post, and thank you for sharing some history!

I love the wax seals, and I've thought about using them on my mail! (I hear that our modern mail-sorting machines don't treat them well, so I've refrained from it.)

Greetings from Munroe Falls, Ohio, USA!

~ Marica
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JinaSensei, United States of America
Okay, now I must go visit this awesome postal museum! Thanks for the adventure, Little Mail Carriers!
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CathyFay, United States of America
Very interesting. I learned some new things today!
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antarrrtida, Portugal
That's like a paradise! And what an interesting ride. We should definitely go there.
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rosenbusch, Germany
Thank you for sharing the interesting story. I like the little mail-carriers.....
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zomertje, Netherlands
Thank you for another very interesting story.!!
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geminiscp, Portugal
Lovely photos and nice way to show some History!!! :)
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Tranchile, Guernsey
They should come to our Post office in Guernsey as they will enjoy meeting our friendly staff.
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Fireblossom, Germany
Wonderful post, thank you! (:
I would love to host them in my city :)
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alterego, Canada
It's been many years since I've been there but I used to take my classes of young students there as a field trip. They really make it fun! It's a wonderful historic place and so great of you to highlight it! Great photos!
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jm1122, United States of America
What a wonderful visit to an amazing place!
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quirkylady79, United States of America
Interesting and fun to read! :)
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Flippie, Canada
Thank you for sharing the whole story and I'm Happy that I live this country; Canada! Happy 150 years, Canada!
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Namibia13, Germany
What a great adventure for the Little Mail Carriers! Torontos First Post Office is a wonderful place and it brings back fond memories for me as I had the pleasure to live in Toronto for a year. Thanks for sharing the story!
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Lario, France
Thank you little mail transpoprter
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Prinzmucki, Germany
Im working some times at a post office in switzerland ,
and we hat the same working places at Toronto.
Its a vew years ago , phantastic to see it again !
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Kasimir2007, Germany
I always enjoy the stories of the little mail carreers. But I think this is a really special one.
Keep us in contact with their adventures. They are so cute and they love all that they are doing.
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Solangia, Canada
Thank you very much! Super fun and interesting!
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Karishca, Belarus
Thank you very much:) it's fantastic!
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Sfander, Canada
Oh, I wish I had known the Little Mail Carriers were coming to Toronto...I would have loved to visit with them.
Enjoyed their story very much and I'm glad they had some fun in Toronto...It's a fun town.
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nugget, United States of America
Very interesting! Now I want to visit this museum too! Thanks for sharing.
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scriptor, United Kingdom
An excellent post about an excellent post!
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kd7flc, United States of America
It Loved the post; it's so sweet and historical!
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kimmedims, Netherlands
Thanks for sharing another great adventure of the little mail carriers! I love reading their blogs :-)
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antic_hay, United Kingdom
What a fun report, it makes me want to visit the museum too!
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manik2642, Bangladesh
Awesome and Awesome !!
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SeanPatrick, United States of America
Quite interesting.
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