Feature image is of Caldbeck, located at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Patterson, Grand Valley.
BIG HILL COUNTRY RURAL POST OFFICES – Big Hill Country
The early ranchers and homesteaders led an extremely lonely life. The solitude was especially hard for their wives; they seldom left the shack which was their home and often did not see another woman for months.
Little wonder. then, that mail from “Home”. was a treasure to be read and re-read. In addition to the letters which were the only contact with loved ones and friends in the outside world”, supplies were ordered by mail long before the advent of the Eaton’s Catalogue. Yard goods, ready-made garments, furniture, household supplies, tools, machinery, often groceries and medicines, luxuries such as books or music, all were ordered by mail by early settlers in many parts of the West.
Many settlers lived a great distance from the nearest railway and established a post office, and received their mail, perhaps, only a few times a year. Thus it was that as an area became inhabited by sufficient settlers to warrant the establishment of a local post office, the Dominion Government was petitioned for such a service.
The period from 1890 to 1910 saw a number of rural post offices opened in Big Hill Country. They remained open either until the population for some reason did not warrant their continuation or until roads and transportation improvements allowed the residents of the area to travel to a larger center, where stores and other facilities were available, as well as a post office. In other cases, rural mail delivery was started along the main roads.
The following rural post offices were operated throughout Big Hill Country for varying periods of time:
- Caldbeck, located at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Patterson, Grand Valley.
- Lochend, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Laidlaw.
- Inglis, at A. McCrady’s house. It is rather surprising that Inglis and Lochend Post Offices were only about six miles apart, although the area was not thickly settled.
- Bradbourne, later moved a short distance and re-named Dog Pound.
- Bottrel, located in the store first opened by J. T. Boucher, and in operation until 1969.
- Sampsonton, re-located at Madden with the coming of the railway in 1931.