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Post Office:

Few people are aware that Souris has an interesting, self-appointed public

relations man. In 1965, the Guardian branch office manager in Souris

passed a letter addressed to the newspaper on to George A. Leard. It was

from Edouard R. Souris of Toronto, requesting information about the Town

name, similar to his own. George replied, telling him that it had been so

named by the French in 174land that there was a Souris East and Souris

West, each with a post office at one time. When the Town requested the

postal authorities to have the "East" dropped,they refused, because there

was already a Souris Post Office in Manitoba.

Mr. Souris, a native of Antwerp, Belgium, and now a film editor with CTV

in Toronto, has made a hobby of visiting places all over the world with

variations of the word Mouse. He has found 60 in all, towns, rivers, valleys,

parks and hills in France, Belgium, Madagascar and other places including

an island in the Indian Ocean. He visited Souris in the summer of 1966. On

his return, he wrote to Canada Post describing the beauties of the Island. He

pointed out that the word "east" is not on the Federal Building nor is it used

by the residents of the Island. He requested that, as a Centennial Project,

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the Town be given a new postal seal. The request was granted and on

February 1, 1967, Souris East officially became Souris.

Mr. Souris, who corresponds with friends all over the world, had George

mail over 300 letters from the Souris Post Office advising them of the

change.75

The early history of the mail service on the Island is filled with tales

of hardship and heroism. An article in the Guardian of February 4, 1911

tells of a Peter R. Smith, a courier, who made the trip in late December, 1823

from Wood Islands to Caribou with three men in a large row boat. He had to

wait a week in Pictou for the mail to come from Halifax. On returning to

Caribou, where he left the boat, he found the ice on the Strait forming fast.

He was compelled to build an ice boat to enable him to get back to the

Island, a distance of 20 miles. He got back to his family January 17,1824.

And then "letters remained in the Post Office (Charlottetown) till called

for".76

In 1827, Governor Ready strongly recommended the establishment of an

inland post: "The postmaster of Charlottetown was directed to open a

number of post offices and to establish the necessary courier routes." The

system began operations on the 1st of July following.77

Beginning 1827, the first eastern courier route to serve the Souris area,

was by way of St. Peters Road, St. Peter's Bay, Fortune and Grand River.

The mail was left with James Aitken of Bay Fortune. The first post office

called Souris was established in 1830—Alexander Leslie, of Souris West,

Postmaster. During these years, the couriers made the trip with the mail

twice a week in summer and once a fortnight in winter.

The first postmaster appointed for Souris after Responsible Government

was granted in 1851 was James McFarlane, who kept a store on the corner

north of Centennial Park.78 In 1867, the post offices were divided into Souris

East and Souris West. The eastern one was in a building where Irving Oil

Ltd. Station is now located. Mrs. Smith was postmistress.

At one time there were 450 post offices across the Island. But when rural

mail delivery was established, this number was reduced to 125.

Marshall Paquet (born 1841)was appointed postmaster of Souris East in

1883. His letter of confirmation came early the following year. The Weekly

Examiner and Island Argus of November 9,1883, writes that "the new post

office premises on Chapel Avenue opened in the Stone Hotel." It appears

that, around 1901 ,the post office was in the Red Rag where Marshall Paquet

kept a store. J.J. Hughes was Liberal member of Parliament for this area

when the stone post office was built in 1905. That year William, son of

Marshall, moved in as new postmaster. He was followed in 1911 by John

Garrett.

Souris West Post Office was not listed in the Canada Official Postal

Guide, 1917, so it must have closed in 1916.

It wasn't easy setting up a postal system as the following story from the

Prince Edward Island Register of August 11, 1829 shows: "The packet from

Pictou on Saturday, instead of bringing Halifax mail, brought back the

bags she carried over on Wednesday. The mistake was not known until the

bag reached Charlottetown Post Office. The packet was immediately sent

back for the right bag. Yesterday, she again returned without it as the

Pictou postmaster had served the good folks of Halifax precisely as he had

done ourselves by returning them their own bag." Fortunately it was

August, not wintertime.

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Photo by Morley S. Acorn. Courtesy Pictures of the Past by Leards.

Sour is Post Office and Customs Office

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