Mail has always been an important function in the lives of people. Before the telephone, besides telegrams, it was the only way to communicate to friends or relatives who lived elsewhere. Today, it is still a vital means of communication and people always look forward to receiving a letter or card in the mail.
Mail, posted to go north of Big River, in the early years was delivered by canoe. Mr. McBeth and Thomes Borthwick were two of these canoe mail carriers and at times they would travel as far north as Green Lake.
Mail, in those days, was dropped off at Erinferry and Bodmin at the General Stores. This was a convenience to the people in that area. A central Post Office now serves the town and district.
The Big River Lumber Company operated the first Post Office around 1910. This was located in the lumber firm's sheds where the hotel now stands.
The Postmaster at that time was an employee of the Lumber Company. Mr. Forbes later became the assistant there. Then in 1914, Mr. Forbes was officially appointed head postmaster of the Big River Post Office. The building he worked in was destroyed by fire in 1923. It was then located temporarily in several homes until Mr. Forbes built a permanent Post Office; fire also destroyed this building. The Legion Hall became the temporary station for the Post Office while a second building was constructed at Mr. Forbes' place.
It operated there until a larger Post Office was opened in 1967 on the corner of Main and Fifth Avenue. Mr. Bill McKnight is presently employed as Postmaster.
Inside the Post Office. Mr. Forbes, Postmaster.
Frank Michie, Alex Afanasieff, and Mr. Forbes
inside the Post Office.
The Post Office built after 1923, destroyed by fire.
Post Office while in Mr. Forbes' home.
The modern Post Office.
With the advent of the installation of telephones in Big River in 1935, came the necessity of having a switchboard.
Mr. Thomas Young built an addition onto his home to house the telephone equipment. This small room was used for a telephone office for many years. A telephone booth in the corner of the office was used by many of the local citizens who did not have phones in their homes at this time.
If a phone call came through for a person who didn't have a phone, a messenger was sent to their home informing them of the call. The person who received the message would then go to the office and sit in the booth and wait while the operator placed a return call to the party which had phoned previously. When the call came through, you merely lifted the receiver and you were connected with the party you wished to speak to. All calls, local and long distance, had to be placed with the long distance operator.
Some of the names of the switchboard operators through the years are as follows: Sadie Young, Exelda Caissie (Emde), Belroy Newton (Wirtz), Mrs. Glen Anderson, Ann Wopnford, Helen Snell, Rita Blanchette, Myrtle Bale, Rita Bouchard (Olson), Yvette Bouchard, Lorna Bale, Priscilla, Pister, Marie Rekve (Sawatsky), Helen Ausland, Ivy Johnson.
In 1968, the switchboard was moved to Ivy Johnson's home. The office was in her home until the conversion to dial service. The changeover took place on Wednesday, July 8, 1970.