(Contributed)                                Ceremony for the introduction of letter carrier service in Haney Centre. Photo was ID’d by Bob Franklin, who worked for the post office from 1937 until his retirement.

(Contributed) Ceremony for the introduction of letter carrier service in Haney Centre. Photo was ID’d by Bob Franklin, who worked for the post office from 1937 until his retirement.

Maple Ridge post offices all but gone

After much rancour, postal district named after current city

Looking Back

Val Patenaude

Door-to-door mail service in Haney was kicked off with much fanfare on Halloween, 1961. A crowd gathered around the entrance to the Haney Post Office to see the new postal deliverymen take up their appointed routes. At this point, no one knew that they had just made Haney a part of history.

Before the introduction of delivery services, people went to their local post office to get their mail. Every neighbourhood had its own post office and its own name – in 1961 that included Haney, Port Hammond, Albion, Webster’s Corners, Ruskin and Whonnock. In earlier days, there had been even more neighbourhood post offices but they had been replaced by rural routes or closed.

Door-to-door delivery was seen as very much a “treat” saving the time it took to go to the post office. You could also leave a piece of stamped, addressed mail in your mailbox to be picked up by the carrier. This was a carryover from the rural route delivery system but it was lost when door slots replaced the mailbox at the end of the driveway.

The other neighbourhoods saw Haney enjoying this wonderful new service while they were left out. At the time, only small parts of Port Hammond had a sufficient suburban population for door-to-door service and they were quick to ask for it – at least until they heard the price.

In the earlier form of postal service, large bags of mail were delivered to the individual offices and it was up to the postmaster and any other staff to sort it into their clients’ mailboxes. For door-to-door delivery, the sorting had to be centralized and routes established that crossed the boundaries between the old postal districts. This meant that the mail had to be addressed to the central sorting location rather than the old postal name. For Port Hammond residents, that meant having all their mail addressed to Haney.

It would take more space than we have here to outline the history of rivalry between Port Hammond and Haney but suffice it to say that the suggestion that Port Hammond’s mail be addressed to Haney was met with a resounding no.

Over the following years, many compromises were tried with only parts of Hammond getting delivery while the rest still went to the post office. Maintaining both operations would prove to be too expensive, so Canada Post started suggesting a return to the original postal name for the district, which was Maple Ridge. People could identify their address as being in “Hammond, Maple Ridge” or “Haney, Maple Ridge” but that did not calm the furor. Many letters to the editor were written.

By 1968, it was time to incorporate all of Hammond into the door-to-door system and other neighbourhoods were getting close. There followed two years of public meetings and proposals and counter-proposals but in the end, only one option was acceptable to the district and Canada Post – that the postal name be changed to Maple Ridge – district-wide. It was announced in March 1970.

It would be interesting to know if those involved in the introduction of door-to-door delivery knew that ultimately it would mean the end of local post offices and postal identities – the trick buried in the treat. Today, only Whonnock retains its rural post office by steadfastly refusing home delivery.