The Union Bay Historical Society is gearing up to celebrate the local post office’s 100 years of serving the public.
The tall, stately wooden building was built in 1912, and opened in 1913. Since then, it has been open six days a week to serve citizens through all kinds of weather, an earthquake, two world wars and restoration.
It has been and still is the centre of town — when people come to pick up their letters and parcels, they meet friends, exchange gossip and discuss politics. For years it had the only cement sidewalk in town, where kids could bounce a ball, skip or play hop-scotch.
Fred Brown, a larger-than-life man from Victoria, became the first postmaster. The building also housed the telegraph and telephone exchange, and the switch for the street lights (all six of them). Brown was also a telegrapher and manned everything.
The Vancouver Island Regional Library moved into the building, and still remains.
In the late 1980s, Public Works Canada decided to sell the building and close the post office. The Union Bay Historical Society was formed to save the building.
After much negotiations and fundraising, they bought the building in 1993 and completely restored it in 1995. Canada Post agreed to stay and has just signed another five-year lease to keep the postal outlet in its original home.
Children open the same boxes with bevelled glass windows as their great grandparents did. Last year, the beautiful oak furnishings were restored.
Drop in and mail a letter, or better still come to a two-day celebration:
• Thursday, June 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Canada Post will issue a commemorative one-day-only cancellation stamp. Also, Canada Post has designed a postage stamp with the post office on it.
The historical society will sell antique postcards with these colourful postage stamps (legal tender) on them.
• Friday, June 21. A history and humour show will be presented at Union Bay Community Hall at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 at the door.
The show will depict all the problems encountered in buying and restoring the building. As well, Fred and Sally Brown and their brood will take you back in time during Union Bay’s heyday. Come for some history, fun and birthday cake.
— Union Bay Historical Society