Looking back at Toronto’s post office amid city’s biggest growth spurt

Common 19th-century letter-writing tools included (clockwise from top left) pounce, a ‘penny ink,’ an eraser knife and a goose-feather quill, which was used for thousands of years before the introduction of steel-nib pens in the 1830s.

At the helm of Toronto’s post office during its incorporation and subsequent population boom, James Scott Howard oversaw mail delivery from July 1828 until his dismissal nearly 10 years later. About a decade after the city incorporated in 1834, its population more than doubled to 21,000. While an excellent postal service was necessary, mail delivery in and around Toronto was “slow and sometimes tragic,” according to Zoé Delguste-Cincotta, curator of the Town of York Historical Society, which manages Toronto’s First Post Office (TFPO). “Roads in and around Toronto, when they would finally be built, were notoriously poor and waterlogged for three seasons of the year,” she said. Continue reading →

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