When I visited Cavendish I came in only with the knowledge of PEI gleaned from the Anne series. It wasn’t until visiting the Macneill homestead that I learned of the connection between the post office and Maud.
For years on the island Charlottetown had the only post office. It’s hard to remember how difficult it would have been to deliver mail given the modes of transportation vs the seasons. Neighbors would assist one another by taking mail into Charlottetown if their family had need to visit the capitol the next family would treat their neighbors when they then needed to go into town. The early history of the postal service was trying to accomplish what few governments could do; create order between cities, towns and even countries. I was shocked while researching when I stumbled upon an Act in 1860 that required the pre-purchase of proper postage. If you didn’t get that stamp ahead of time your recipient would be charged and you would be fined as well. Seems so clear now but back then the system was piecemeal and could be run on favors between neighbors, merchants and ship captains. It wasn’t until 1867 that Prince Edward Island would create three formal mail routes and dot the island with 10 new post offices.Eventually when PEI would enter the Canadian Confederation had 168 post offices. The routes themselves though would remain relatively the same.
It’s interesting to see how the post office with it’s scraps of paper and privacy afforded Maud the opportunity to submit her scribbles away from the prying eyes of a close community. I found this video from the Canadian Museum of History’s YouTube page and it’s been a wonderful resource to click through the playlists and discover more about this great country. Enjoy!