‘Historic’ Windsor post office one of many facing closure

Canada Post is coming under fire over more post office closures and sorting station reductions. In Windsor, Ont., MP Brian Masse is leading a fight to keep the Sandwich Post Office open, and to retain jobs at a local sorting facility. A community rally, backed by city council, to protest the closure was even set to take place in late January. “It’s shocking that on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 the most historic post office building in the area will be closed,” Masse told the Windsor Star on Jan. 16. Canada Post recently confirmed that it wants to close the post office, which has two full-time employees, and eliminate 80 out of 140 positions at Windsor’s Walker Road sorting facility, which will shift its focus to processing direct mail and parcels. All other mail, including first-class letters, is to be rerouted to London, Ont., for processing.

Under their collective agreement, all current employees have job security. As a result, the jobs will be reduced through retirement and transfers over time. However, local temporary workers brought in during busy periods are not likely to see their jobs moved to the new facility. The London sorting facility was recently upgraded with more modern equipment. One of the arguments in favour of retaining the post office is the historic nature of Sandwich, a very old community in what is now West Windsor. Sandwich was the original name of Windsor, and the site of several engagements during the War of 1812. It was also the location of American Gen. William Hull’s short-lived invasion of Canada in July 1812. The nearby community of Amherstburg, at the mouth of the Detroit River, was the location of a major British fort and dockyard, while Fort Detroit, across the river, was an important U.S. military establishment. British Maj.-Gen. Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, both honoured on a pair of stamps issued in 2012, met in the area to discuss plans prior to the capture of Detroit by forces under Brock’s command.

The Sandwich post office, however, is located in a building constructed long after the war. William Hands was the postmaster in Sandwich from 1800 to 1835, and was simultaneously sheriff, district treasurer, customs officer, judge, and registrar. He operated the post office out of his house. After Hands died, the job went to George Gentle, who also operated a general store. Over the years, the post office moved from various homes and local businesses. In 1907, the dominion government purchased land at the corner of Mill and Sandwich streets, and built the present post office. At that time the local customs inspector lived on the second floor and the janitor had an apartment on the third floor.

The changes are expected to take effect in mid-February. Meanwhile, Canada Post is also looking at closing three post offices in the Montreal area, in the neighbourhoods of Westmount, Snowdon and Notre-Dame-de-Grace. Again, it is conducting a review process until Feb. 15. Finally, the corporation is also looking at closing the post office in Ladner, B.C., part of Metro Vancouver, across the Fraser River from Richmond. The two employees there, both with more than 30 years service with Canada Post, are to be transferred to other locations in Vancouver. As with the other two closings, the plan was announced Jan. 15, with a one-month consultation period for public input.

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