Spring Migration of Whaletown Post Office

Whaletown Post Office — much photographed by tourists — has a long and interesting story (you can find out more at the Cortes Museum). It has served the community for over 70 years.

When its tenure on private property near Whaletown Wharf could no longer be maintained, Whaletown residents banded together to “Save the Post Office” and find it a new home. After several weeks of discussion and some generous donations to “buy more time,” a solution was found: Whaletown Community Club agreed to host the Post Office in the Community Hall parking lot.

Once the destination was chosen, the ad hoc Post Office Committee (“Friends of V0P1Z0”) worked tirelessly to plan and execute the relocation. On the weekend of March 6th-8th — as the clocks changed — their plans were realised: the Whaletown Post Office moved to a new and sunnier location next to the Whaletown Community Hall.

Moving Weekend began with a celebration. On Friday the 6th of March, approximately 65 Whaletown residents dropped by for the afternoon “bon voyage party” for their well-loved and historic PO.

Poster for Whaletown PO Celebration just prior to the move

Christine Robinson, one of the organisers, said “It was a bright day and a happy community gathering of Whaletowners enjoyed warm mulled apple cider, brownies and other goodies. Many of the people would have been picking up their mail as part of their usual Friday afternoon routine, but some folks came down purposefully for a farewell visit.”

Balloons, bunting, cider and cake — the Post Office has a little party

Soon after closing time, the moving crew arrived and started clearing away obstacles that would interfere with placement of the trailer. Meanwhile, postmistress Mary Clare, with help from volunteers, cleaned out the building contents. Whaletown mail was transported to Mansons Landing Post Office for secure Canada Post storage over the weekend.

Ron Bowen’s mighty mini digger moves rocks … and PO boxes

After throwing the main breaker in the nearby electrical shed, the moving crew cut the power cable and the Whaletown PO porch light went out for the first time in many years. The famous little building sat dark and silent overnight.

On Saturday morning, gray and early, in intermittent wet snow, the all-volunteer moving crew returned. Cheerful despite the nasty weather, they tackled the careful (and muddy) task of lifting the building, notching or removing original supports and timbers as necessary, and gently manoeuvring the PO onto a custom-built trailer.

So is this thing really going to slide under here?
The digger gives a careful push…
Success! That’s enough for one day.

For safety’s sake, actual transportation to Whaletown Community Hall was done in the very early hours of Sunday morning when the roads were empty. But it wasn’t quite as simple as just “parking the RV.” A number of alders in dubious condition were leaning towards the new PO site. Gorge Harbour Marina gave permission and the danger trees were swiftly taken down later on Sunday morning.

Bye-bye alders!

Safe from falling alders, the 70 year old PO settled into its new home, with good southern exposure to brighten up the interior.

In place and being levelled: Whaletown PO has arrived.
View from the parking lot: what you would see as you drive up to get your mail.

For those who crave more pictures, there’s a more complete photo album.

Though firmly in place and planning to serve the public on Monday, the Post Office is not quite complete. Electrical supply and internet connectivity are next on the to-do list. However, Whaletown residents should be able to pick up and post their mail at the new location on Monday March 9th. (Some computer-dependent Post Office services may not be available until there is internet connectivity.)

Editorial Comment: personally, I have loved the Whaletown Post Office ever since I first saw it (even before living here). I would have missed it sadly if we had failed to find it a home. So I would like to offer sincere personal thanks to

  • volunteers who served on the committee (L. Peters, Rod and Karen Lee, Mary Clare, Hubert Havelaar, Chris Napper, Gabriel Dinim, Cec Robinson, Bill Dougan)
  • the moving crew, those stalwart souls who laboured in the snow and the mud (Henry Verschuur, Hubert Havelaar, Ron Bowen, Brian Genn, Max Thaysen, Mark Lombard, Bruce Harrison, Chris Napper, Rod Lee)
  • the kind souls who brought the crew hot food and drink (Mary Clare, Carol London, Christine Robinson, Beth Napper)
  • and all the community members who chipped in and supported this effort.

Headline image: Baba Yaga’s Hut by Don Carson.

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