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Post Offices in Rural Areas

Post offices often functioned as the beating heart of many rural communities in Alberta during the mid Twentieth Century. A typical rural post office operated out of a general store, and sometimes consisted of nothing more than a wooden box on the counter to hold the mail until the recipient came to pick them up. As the communities grew in size, so too did the post offices. In time, every citizen had their own mail box. The post offices were places where one could socialize with friends and neighbors, while keeping informed on local, national and international affairs. During the Second World War, a variety of household necessities - including butter, paint, oil, fish, eggs and baby chickens - were delivered via the post.

Before mass distribution of newspapers, widespread ownership of radios and telephones, and long before the digital age of fax and email, Alberta residents relied upon the post for their long-distance communication. Often, communities made public addresses through notices placed in the local post office. Notices covered day to day events such as Meat Coupon Value Charts, Gasoline Rationing, Buy War Savings Stamps and Collect Stamps. Generally, a member of every family visited the post office at least once a week to keep updated on these listings.

For members of the armed forces, mail was an invaluable medium during the Second World War. The fear of losing loved ones in battle, and hence and the need for sustained communication between the warfront and the homefront during times of separation, made the postal service an extremely important source of emotional comfort for soldiers and civilians alike. Military personnel felt most connected to home through reading letters. Civilians were encouraged to write their servicemen and women about even the most basic activities. Daily routines, family news and local gossip kept the armed forces linked to their communities.

Post Offices During World War Two:

  • 12,500 post offices and 4,000 rural routes
  • special delivery only to Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat
    the fee is $.10 in addition to regular postage
  • air mail cost $.06 when a soldier received $1.20 per day
  • savings could be deposited at the post office
  • free parcel insurance up to $50.00 (equivalent to over $2000.00 today)
  • $.10 for registered mail
Post Office gallery

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