Post Office and Mail Service
The first Post Office in Canada was established in Halifax in I755. In that year a line of Packets were placed on the route from Falmouth, England and New York as part of a general scheme for closer and more regular communications between Britain's Colonies and the Mother Country and the Packet called at Halifax.
Early history writers tell us that the first mail to Pictou was carried by schooner or packet from Halifax to Pictou.
Then about 1815 Jacob Lynds began to carry mail from Truro to Pictou by horse and wagon, after a few years he changed to a double seated wagon and was able to carry a few passengers, making the trip weekly.
About 1842, Hiriam Hyde purchased the business and used a covered coach, using six or more horses, changing the horses at different points along the route, making the trip daily.
The book Place Names and Places of Nova Scotia states "A Postal Way office was established about 1838 and in 1847 this became a Post Office". McPhees, Pictonians at Home and Abroad records that "In 1849 Durham Post Office ranked fifth in the Province in revenue collected, being in this respect at that time ahead of New Glasgow. The Post Offices with a larger were that of Halifax, Yarmouth, Truro and Pictou."
Durham was first known as West River, In 1838 it was named Durham after Lord Durham, Governor in Chief of British North America.
For the early settlers in this district mail was slow and uncertain. We have a copy of the first letter to the McLeods, arriving from Scotland in 1817. This letter, written by William Aikens to his son in law and daughter, Robert and Jannet McLeod writes "We take this opportunity of writing you by the ship Augustus to leave Dumfries tomorrow".
The first letters were carried person to person by persons traveling by ships between the Old Country and the New Land. Another letter writes "We will expect a letter when the ship arrives". Several letters were carried in care of named persons. One in 1837 was carried to Truro by a Mr. McCully.
The Pictou County Atlas notes that Camerons settled in West River in 1815, and is marked as the site of the Post Office, apparently mail was dropped here before the Postal Way service was established in I838 for we have at least one letter received from Scotland in 1832, marked with instructions to leave at Camerons, West River. This pick up point at Durham served Rockfield, Rofflers Hill and surrounding areas for many years.
In 1890 a Postal Way mail service was started at Rogers Hill Centre at the home of Alex McLennans. This was as a result of the Short Line Railroad being built from Pictou to Scotsburn in I889, and a Federal Post Office buildings was built about the same time and called Scotsburn Station Post Office.
After the Post Office was built at Scotsburn mail carriers were appointed to carry mail from the Post Office at Scotsburn to Postal Way Offices along the way. After these appointments residents of Rockfield no longer had to go to Durham for mail pick up, but were able to pick mail up at Alex McLennans, Rogers Hill Centre This was more convenient as school children were able to get the mail coming from school or folk could pick up mail when meetings were held at the school house.
Hugh McKay, Dalhousie Mountain was the first mail carrier, picking up the mail at Scotsburn and dropping it along the way at Postal Way Stations. Alexander McIntosh, Dalhousie followed Hugh McKay as mail carrier (He was the father of Rettie McIntosh, Sylvester). During his term as Mail carrier his first stop for delivery was at MacKeans later Fulton McKean now MacAulays, then he proceeded to Rogers Hill Centre and stopped at Thomas Rogers, who had succeeded Alex McLennens as Postal Way Office. The next stop was at one of the Young's store at Millsville then on to Walter Ross, his final call . The Mail carrier had to be at Scotsburn at 7 o'clock each mornings to meet the train carrying the mail and was paid 90 cents a trip.
Following an Election and change of government in 1911, Alex McIntosh was retired from his job and John Robert Ross , a neighbor became new mail carrier, J.R. Ross was the father of George Ross, Scotsburn.
In 1911, tenders were awarded for daily rural mail delivery to improve mail service.
Gavin Munro of Brookland was awarded the contract, and was the first carrier to deliver along our rural route three. He continued to do so for twelve years. Gavin Munro delivered mail on route three for the first contract of four years. Then when the contract expired for route two over Millsville etc. he was awarded the contract and continued these both routes until 1926. Robert Macfarlane of Pictou serviced the route three for several winters.
Gavin Munro married Gladys Adamson, and they resided at Scotsburn, They had a family, I recall the names Murdena, Loudell, Forbes, Vernon and Clyde (not sure of any more). All the time the Munros delivered the mail, it was with the horse, always a nice driving horse. We can also remember Mrs. Munro driving the mail, and she could handle the horse, I'm telling you !
Dan MacKay of Elmfield was given the contract following Gavin Munro and continued to deliver mail along route three until 1933 ,when Hugh Munro of Brookland was given the contract. Dannie then continued to deliver mail along route two over Millsville, etc. until his retirement, at the age of seventy, about eleven years service. Dan was married to Anna MacDonald, Elrnfield, they too lived at Scotsburn. They had no family.
Meanwhile Hugh Munro of Brookland began the mail delivery for this route three in October of 1933, and rendered faithful service for over forty years until his retirement in July 1974. Hugh married Marcella Dickson of Pictou, a school teacher. The fall he began mail delivery they bought a house and settled at Scotsburn, where he also retired and lived until his death in April, 1980.Hugh was also the village barber as a sideline, and was always willing to share his musical talents in the Church choir, and always ready to accommodate with some scotch songs at social events. Hugh and Marcella had three sons: Byron, Laurence (Larry)and Douglas.
Nitchell Lavers of Rockfield began mail delivery following Hugh Munros retirement in July 1974 and is still serving our Community with daily rural mail delivery.
Here again in our social life we have surprising changes, from carried to Postal Way to Post Office, then daily mail delivery.Our first carriers, as we already noted never had an automobile, and had to make the trip regardless of weather, rain or sunshine, frost or blowing snow, with the horse and sled or wagon. Our hats off to them.
Pictou County Reminiscences
Stanley Graham, Scotsburn, Nova Scotia
Compiled by: John Broderick