Post Offices and Postmasters

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The Post Offices and Postmasters database was created from records documenting the establishment and discontinuance of post offices and the name and appointment date of postmasters for most years between 1851 and 1981.

Note: Records for the years 1875-1902 did not survive.

Records of the Post Office

The database has been created from a series of postal history record cards (RG 3, volumes 3484 to 3536) documenting changes of postmasters at individual post offices located across Canada. Beginning in the early 1950s, the preparation of the cards was undertaken by the Public Affairs Unit using the files and letterbooks that were eventually turned over to Library and Archives Canada (RG 3, series B-2 and D-3).

Postal history record cards for all provinces have been entered into the database and originals have been withdrawn from consultation for preservation purposes. Unfortunately, the original register to the reports for the years 1875-1902 did not survive.

The Post Office was created as a federal department in 1867. Although postal operations in Canada date back to 1755, postal services were under the control of British authorities until 1851. In 1981, the Post Office ceased to be a government department and became a Crown corporation.  The mandate of the Post Office is to establish, operate and maintain a full range of postal services in Canada. To achieve this objective, the corporation's functional activities are divided into the following:

  • corporate affairs
  • operational services
  • marketing
  • finance
  • personnel and administration
  • systems and engineering

The records of the Post Office are divided into several series, which consists of administrative and operational files and covers all aspects of the activities of the Post Office. These activities include the following:

  • the establishment and closing of offices
  • air mail
  • censorship
  • rural mail delivery
  • Eastern Arctic patrol
  • equipment
  • international communications
  • contracts
  • railway mail
  • ocean mail
  • personnel

The data used to create the Post Offices database originated from the series entitled "Divisional Inspectors Reports" (RG 3, Series D-3). The Divisional Inspector is responsible for the following:

  • observing postal laws and regulations,
  • establishing new offices and routes,
  • regulating existing routes,
  • investigating robberies and abstractions,
  • enquiring into complaints and misconduct and
  • making regular personal visits to each post office to evaluate the performance of mail service.

By 1861, each Divisional Inspector was responsible for between 200 and 400 post offices within his district. Initially, Canada East and Canada West were the only two divisions, but by 1870 that number had grown to seven: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto and London. As postal service expanded, additional Postal Divisions and Inspectorships were created.

Search Help

The search screen contains the following search fields:

  • Keywords
  • Postmaster
  • Office Name
  • Electoral District
  • Provinces and Territories 

A search by Keywords allows you to find any term in all fields within the database.

For example:
Type in the name of a postmaster or a place and you will get hits for that particular name selected.

You can use the other search fields to get more precise results.

For example:
For the name "Peter Mitchell Simpson", enter simpson in the Postmaster field and to narrow your search, select Ontario in the Provinces and Territories field.

Search Tips

  • Enter the terms in the appropriate field that best describes the post office or the postmaster you are searching for. It can be the name of a post office or a postmaster, a place name, an electoral district, or a province.
  • As the database contains descriptions of old documents, do not use only modern or current words and terms when entering your search.
  • Be aware that Quebec place names could be anglicized.
    • Île-aux-Grues becomes Crane Island
    • Pointe-Lévis becomes Point Levi
    • St-Jean-sur-Richelieu becomes St. John's

Search Results Page

Each search will provide you with the following information:

  • Item number
    To view the detailed description select the link.
  • Province
    This column provides the name of the province or territory for the post office.
  • Office Name
    This column provides the post office's name, as stated in the register.
  • Electoral District 
    This column provides the post office's district name.

Detailed Description

The detailed description includes all or some of the sections described below:

  • the place where the post office was located,
  • the date the post office was established,
  • the date the post office was closed,
  • the name or location changes of the post office and
  • the name of all the postmasters, including their military status, date of birth, date of appointment, date of vacancy and cause of vacancy.
  • What does O.A.S. mean? Under the Civil Service Act, veterans who had seen overseas active service in the First or Second World War, or their widows, were given hiring preference for government jobs.

Please note that the information in this database was transcribed from postal history record cards and appears exactly as it did in the original records; therefore, the content of these records cannot be altered in any way.

How to Order a Copy and More Information

Please note that many of the historical records of the Government of Canada in the custody of Library and Archives Canada are subject to the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Consequently, before the records can be copied, they must be reviewed to ensure that no information in the records is subject to the aforementioned provisions of the Acts.

The information you have obtained can be used to do further research. Consult the Collection Search database to find other files related to a post office or a postmaster. Use the keywords RG3 and the name of a person, place or post office. See also How to Access our records.

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