Early Post Offices
A system of letter carrying through Reach Township began at intervals as early as 1827, as mail was carried from the front (Whitby) by travellers on foot.
Capt. George Leach, the first storekeeper in Reach, also became the first postmaster, opening a post office in Prince Albert in 1840. By 1848 the first mail-stage was put into operation, dropping off mail twice a week at the Reach post office. This was increased to three-times weekly in 1948.
Port Perry opened its first post office in 1852, with local businessman Joseph Bigelow being appointed its postmaster, a position he held for 17 years.
The same year, Manchester and Epsom opened post offices and daily mail began to arrive by way of a daily mail-stage.
The first Greenbank post office was located on the 12th conc., near the corner of old Brock Rd. (Hwy. 12). It was operated out of a general store kept by George Horne.
Scugog Island established its first post office about 1860.
Port Perry Post Office
In August 1871 work commenced on a new two-storey brick post office in Port Perry near the north-west corner of Queen and John St. It operated here until the early 1900s, when it was moved to a temporary location at Rose & Co. in the Leonard Block at corner of Queen and Perry St. It also moved into a storefront in the Willard Block (now Royal Bank building) for a short time.
The current post office was officially opened in Jan. 1914 and has since become a landmark in downtown Port Perry. At one point in 1972 it appeared the building might be torn down and replaced by a modern new structure, but fortunately a group of local concerned citizens convinced the government of its historic value, saving it from demolition.
Joseph Bigelow became the the first postmaster in 1852, holding the post for 17 years.
At least two others held the position during the ensuing years, Henry Gordon and a Mr. Hurst, who was succeeded in 1883 by John Warren Burnham.
Mr. Burnham held the position of postmaster in Port Perry until his death in 1928, a total of 45 years, at which time his daughter Mrs. Marion Orde took over the duties until Feb. 1930.
Next to become postmaster was Mr. George Hull, a position he held until 1958 when his son Bruce assumed the roll. Bruce Hull held the position for 24 years of the 37 he spent working at the local post office.
In 1982, Mr. Hull retired and Robert Walker assumed the position of postmaster for Port Perry, a position held for 20 years before he retired.
Port Perry Postmasters, from left, Joseph Bigelow, John Warren Burnham, Marion Orde, George Hull, Bruce Hull and Robert Walker
Alana Murphy, a 21 year employee of the Port Perry Post Office became the first permanent woman postmaster in 2002 and she serves to this day, September 2016.
The New Post Office
Plans to construct a new post office in Port Perry began in 1909 when a property on the south side of Queen St. was purhased.
It was almost three years later that work got underway, and an official ceremony was finally held in July 1912 at which time a stone with a simple maple leaf was laid at the northwest corner under the tower.
Construction was slow and ongoing delays made it necessary to open the post office in the Armouries Hall at the rear of the building in the fall of 1913.
The clock, which was brought from Enland, was installed in April 1914 and began operation shortly after, although there were many problems with keeping it running. Samuel Farmer reported, "the clock has scarcely formed the habit of running regularly yet. Sometimes it 'strikes' and sometimes it goes 'on strike' and then of course, it neither goes nor strikes."
The clock was wound manually once a week and undergoes maintenance every couple of weeks to keep it in good working order. John Warren Burnham was the first postmaster in the new Post Office, and served in that capacity until his death in 1928.
Work begins on the first floor of Post Office foundation.
Foundation: Walls two feet thick of white dressed stone.
Basement: Ten feet high under entire building.
Tower Height: 61 feet from ground to top of the pinnacle.
Clock: located 26 ft from ground
First Floor: 14' high walls with 14 large windows.
Second Floor: 11.6' high walls, and equipped with lavoratories.
Exterior Walls: 17" thick on ground floor, 13" thick for second floor and tower. Used 300,000 red bricks.
The ground floor of the post office was divided into three main sections:
The working space - 23 ft. 5 in. by 17 ft 3 in.
The public lobby - 8 ft 3 in. deep by 23 ft 5 in. long.
A hallway 8' 8" ran the full length of the back of the building to the mail entrance on the west side.
The second floor will have a special office for the Inland Revenue and three other large general offices.
The attic floor will contain complete apartments for the caretaker.
The armoury at the back of the post office was one-storey without a basement. It was divided into an Armoury Room 20' x26', Commissioned officers rooms, and lavatories. The main entrance to from an alley way running along the west side of the building.