TFPO archival, artifact collections online

Toronto’s First Post Office (TFPO) has uploaded both its archival and artifact collections – nearly 1,800 items altogether – online for free viewing.

“The content is diverse and varied but relates to the Town of York and early history of Toronto, and the early postal history of these places,” according to TFPO’s October newsletter.

“In the Archival Collection, users can find early indentures and land sales, letters including everyday correspondence, recommendations, business deals, and even marriage proposals. The Artifact Collection includes not only writing tools and communication artifacts, but everyday objects from the early town such as clothing, tools, and games.”

Each listing includes details about where, how and by whom the item was made, what it was used for and how it came to the museum.

Both collections are regularly updated through acquisitions and donations.

To browse the collections, visit


TFPO is located at 260 Adelaide St. E., where it continues to operate today as a fully functioning post office, museum and National Historic Site.

The original post office was open from Monday to Saturday for 11 hours a day – 8 a.m.-7 p.m – and also opened for one hour on Sunday morning for churchgoers.

Originally a department of Britain’s Royal Mail, it’s Canada’s oldest purpose-built post office.

“It is in fact the town of York’s fourth post office, but when the city incorporated in 1834, this was the first post office—the first and only post office in the City of Toronto,” said Zoé Delguste-Cincotta, the curator of the Town of York Historical Society, which manages TFPO.

There were 204 private post boxes for rent, and among their users were Toronto’s first mayor and newspaper publisher William Lyon Mackenzie; Methodist minister and Family Compact proponent Egerton Ryerson, the namesake of Toronto’s Ryerson University; and other government, bank, religious and Indigenous officials.

Today, TFPO houses reproduction boxes – built exactly to the original dimensions – based on the invoices and sketches of James Scott Howard, an Irish Huguenot who became York’s fourth postmaster in 1828.

“Everyone else who did not have a postal box was filed alphabetically for general delivery,” added Delguste-Cincotta.

To take a virtual tour of TFPO, click here.

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