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The Post Office - Seven Persons

Seven Persons - Once Hundred Sixty Acres and a Dream

Chapter 18

Perhaps one of the most important facets of this particular village was the mail service. Mail was so special to these new citizens. How dear to the heart of each was a letter from home. Since these immigrants came from such varied backgrounds it was not uncommon that no one near them spoke their native tongue. Perhaps they only partly understood the type of English they were hearing. To receive a letter from someone who could write in that beloved language was indescribable. News from family helped the homesick. Sometimes much needed money was included. Often parcels contained required items. Business was completed by letter. Mail was their major news media.

The post office became a community gathering centre too. Every householder went there for mail and while there exchanged pleasantries, news and gossip with friends and neighbors. It was a part of going to town. At first the mail was merely dropped off the train, the bag being slipped unto an iron post near the track. Each owner helped himself to his own mail in the early nineteen hundreds.

Mr. Lousley was the first post master. He looked after the mail in his house, which was south of the tracks. It is of interest to note that when he died he was buried in his front yard. His grave stone marked the place for many years. The house still stands and has been the homes of such families as Krauls, Worralls, Clint Campbells, Smelands, and Schmidts.

In 1910 Mr. Henry Bergman took the post office into his butcher shop. There it remained for several years. Then Mrs. McDonald looked after the mail until in 1914 when Tom McDonald, her son, became post master and held this position for over thirty-one years. The front part of his house was the office with an enclosed area for the mail. The south wall was made up of locked boxes, and wickets for the giving out of mail and sale of stamps. The building was previously a lumber business office.

Tom was, during most of those years, a very busy man. He met several trains a day, sometimes at early hours of the morning to exchange his bags of mail. Those were the years when Eaton's, Simpson's, and Christie Grant's mail order houses sent out catalogues and supplied clothing, furniture, hardware and some food stuffs to the many homes of Canada. What loaded mail bags were there when these heavy catalogues arrived, twice a year. How much heavier were these bags when the parcels came.

Each order had to be accompanied by a money order or a postal note, and Tom had to write each of these out. This he cheerfully did, sometimes helping to make out the order too, for those who were unable to do so. He wrote many business letters for others too,and possibly a few love letters. Seven Persons wasn't without romance.

Tom came from Dumfermline, Scotland, in 1911. He was a happy individual, characterized by a definite brogue, a cheery remark and a whistled Scottish tune. He was slim to the point of being called "Skinny" and he moved with agility. As a baseball player he literally flew from base to base.

When his old-country sweetheart, Jenny, came over in October of 1919, they were married in Medicine Hat. They came to Seven Persons by train. Much to their surprise, a welcoming party of the whole village met them, put them in the mail cart and charivarid them up and down the streets. Then they were given a wedding party.

"I was so scared in that cart," said Jenny. "Then I thought that it was good to know that I was being accepted here in Seven Persons. I would have friends."

"Is there a parcel for me, Tom?" asked Mrs. Worrall. "It is Saturday and I sent my order in last Monday. Simpson's give quick service."

"No I don't think so," Tom replied. "Check your mail for a card saying your parcel is at the station."

"Thank you. I'll go and inquire. I did order some big items. They would be pretty heavy."

Tom served the community in other capacities including that of secretary of the local school board, for many years. Jenny upheld a local Ladies Aid, promoted fund raising for the church and the community hall, gave willingly of her singing ability in solos and in the choir, and assisted in the raising of their two sons, Douglas and Alex. She rendered first aid when there wasn't a doctor available, wrote letters for those who couldn't and offered solutions to varied problems. Many confided in her, for as she said, "I have broad shoulders." Indeed, like Jack Spratt's wife, she was a plump lady.

"If a bodee maet a bodee, Comin' through the rye."

Tom and Jenny moved to Vancouver where, in his semi-retirement, he worked in a large department store.

The postal duties in Seven Persons were taken over by Gordon Ismond and Bill Anderson, and later by Mrs. Sophie Smeland, Adeline and Bill Gill, Elizabeth Gechter and Margaret Doerksen, and were performed in the "Store".

Before the railway from Lethbridge to Orion and Manyberries was completed in 1917, Peter Blair was mail carrier. He went from Seven Persons to various points to the south: Thompson, Glen Banner, Orion, Manyberries, Four Ways, One Four, Minda, Comrey, Ranchville and others. He used a team of horses and a democrat except when winter snow compelled him to use a sleigh. At Christmas time he had to borrow a hay rack. It took two full days to deliver the mail in the best of weather and two days to return. He was a faithful and conscientious person. Certainly it was another story of His Majesty's mail getting through

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Mary Tollestrup