In 1928, Mr. Groh, a druggist employed in Love’s Drug Store took over and had a very small building erected for a new Post Office. As the population in the old town had increased to thirty families, business increased accordingly!
In the twenties, the mail was brought in by a Mr. Cadona, who delivered to Kilkerran Post Office, Rolla, Pouce Coupe and Dawson Creek. He rode on a democrat in summer, drawn by a horse and a sleigh in winter. He was cozily wrapped in a tartan rug during the cold weather. On rough roads and battling the elements, it was no pleasant task. At that time, mail was brought in only one day a week.
In December of 1930 the railroad reached the present site of Dawson Creek (once a wheat field.) The main stores and businesses moved to the new site and a Post Office was built on 102nd Avenue across the lane east of the present Caledonia Hotel formerly The New Palace Hotel and Cafe, and before that the W.O. Harper store. A new Postmaster, Mr. A.W. Sharp, was appointed. Mail was then brought in by train and delivered to the Post Office. The first train was in January 1931. Within the next three years, Dawson Creek became a well-established town with agriculture being the main source of revenue. Wheat and livestock, etc. were transported to outside markets by rail. As the population had increased to 150 homes, and businesses enjoyed a boom, the work of handling mail increased. Then disaster struck – an overheated stovepipe caused a fire early one morning. The Postmaster was on duty and managed to save all registered mail by placing it in the safe and all mailbags ready for transport to the train were hauled out to the waiting drayman who loaded up on his dray. The Post Office on that morning not long before Christmas was almost jam-packed with parcels, mail and papers. It was a dreadful disaster. The Canadian Legion Building was available and any mail saved from the fire was taken over to the location near where the Hudson Bay Store now stands and soon the Post Office was in business again.
A Quonset hut from the U.S. Army located on the lot next to Wade’s Style Shop was the next Post Office and business carried on as usual. Volume of mail business increased very much with the arrival of the construction crews in 1942 to commence the building of the Alaska Highway. A population jump of from 300 to 3,000 occurred overnight. At that time, the staff consisted of three: Anne Bullen, Mrs. Bullen and Mrs. Giles, who was Acting Postmaster in the absence of Mr. Sharp who had been called to the Armed Forces. Any casual help lasted only a few weeks at most, as wages were higher elsewhere. 1942 saw the beginning of the Alaska Highway. The population grew to 15,000 during this time when Army personnel followed the construction gangs.
A disastrous fire and explosion in 1943 brought chaos to most of Dawson Creek and Post Office work was again disrupted. However, this did not reach the mails and business was as usual.
A new building was erected on the site where Woolworth’s is now. This came when the war ended and the U.S. Army moved out. It was a pleasant place to work. Many settlers moved into the area and districts grew while the volume of mail kept growing. Postal statistics showed that thirty-three rural post offices were served from Dawson Creek, and that it had the second largest mailing list of all towns in the federal district of Cariboo.
After the Alaska Highway was completed, mail was dispatched from here to Whitehorse and all the new intermediate post offices along the long road. Mr. Primmett was Postmaster from 1951-1955. Frank Riedl was appointed Postmaster in July 1955.
After the Alaska Highway was completed, the first surface mail service was established from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse. At that time, the mail was carried in a bus operated by B.Y.N. As the northern part of British Columbia and Yukon began to grow, the mail volume again increased and it was necessary to change to a semi-trailer and tractor operation. The new services was named the Dawson Creek and Whitehorse Highway Service and is believed to be the longest rural mail haul in North America — 918 miles. It operated twice a week, served ten Post Offices and nearly thirty non-post points. The frequency of this service was increased to three times per week in 1972. Two drivers in a sleeper cab complete the trip to Whitehorse now in thirty hours.
On April 26, 1957, Mr. Jean Paul St. Laurent, MP, and son of the former Prime Minister laid the corner stone of the present Federal Building. The move to the new building was made at the end of February 1958. Since door to door delivery was to be established in June that year, only part of the office could be moved to the new premises. City residents receiving mail through lock boxes in the old building had to continue picking up their mail there until the change to letter carrier service on the 2nd of June. Rural areas and General Delivery customers were switched to the new building. It was therefore necessary to provide postal service from two locations. It should be mentioned that an inside loading area and dock accommodating three semi-trailers was included in the rear of the new premises.
On the 2nd of June 1958, door to door delivery was established. Mr. Harry Gibson and Mr. W.O. Harper, old timers of the area, as well as Mayor Roger Forsyth and representatives from local organizations, took part in the opening day ceremonies. Postal officials attending were: Mr. William Wilson, Regional Director, Vancouver (later appointed Deputy Postmaster General), Mr. G.M. Beaton, District Director, Edmonton, Mr. J.W. Brown, Area Superintendent, and other officials from the Edmonton district Office. The initial letter carrier staff consisted of five letter carriers: Darvin Gammon, Herbert Nicodemus, Robbie Robertson, Harold Fisher, Rudolf Dworsky, one Relief Carrier (Edward Green) and Jack Place, Supervisor.
Until 1960 the mail arrived by rail car on the N.A.R. Railway. The metal doors slid back with a clang. Mike Ryan stood ready to grab the first sack and heave it onto his old truck. Mike had the map of Ireland on his face, and a cud of snoose stacked away. Sack after sack was heaved up, until the load towered dizzily. In the days when the streets were unpaved and full of potholes, one of the sacks was apt to slide off between railroad station and Post Office. Mike solved that problem, not by getting a bigger truck but by enlisting a little old man who scrambled to the top and perched there, watching the road behind. If one fell into the mire, a loud whoop would alert the driver, the runaway sack would sail up to the top. The guard would resume his vigil and the truck would lurch on. Nobody ever saw Old Nels off.
When the steel doors were clanged shut for the last time by A.R. Osterman, the mail clerk, all bets were called off.
Staff 27 full time and 4 part-time
Revenue: $226,561 fiscal year ended March 31/73
Mail Volumes: (monthly) Air Mail Bags – Approx. 300
Parcel Bags – Approx. 3,000
Passing through parcel bags – Approx. 11,000
Dawson Creek is the distribution centre for surface mail up to Whitehorse, YT and the Alaska border.