—- By Cameron Bridge

 

The iconic Merritt Post Office has had a long history within this city. 

The brick laden building has been standing at the corner of Granite Avenue and Voght Street for over 80 years, but the original plans for a post office there stretch back farther. 

In 1913, the Canadian government purchased the land for the purpose of building a permanent post office.

This was heavily supported by members of the community at a time when Merritt appeared to have had only temporary post offices. However, the breakout of the First World War the subsequent year meant that the federal government shelved these plans indefinitely.

The uncertainty of a permanent post office angered quite a few organizations in Merritt.  

The Merritt Chamber of Commerce for example began sending telegrams to Ottawa demanding an answer as to why it was shelved although no answer appears to have been released. 

This meant that Merritt was forced to continue to have temporary post offices for the next 25 years, operating out of such buildings as the Bank of Montreal building (now WorkBC). 

This would finally change as in April, 1939, the Federal Government announced funding of $15,000 for a new post office and “Indian Agency Office”. 

The contract was awarded to a construction company out of Vancouver called Marwell Construction Co. and the construction began quickly. By November, the foundation walls had been set with the remainder of the work being postponed until the Spring.

But, again, another world war threatened to end the construction of the post office. In response to the war, by June 1940, the Canadian government announced a cease-work order on all construction of public works. 

Pressure from public bodies and the M.P. for the region, T.J. O’Neil, and the fact that the building was nearly 85 per cent complete by the time that the cease-work order came through, they received authority to complete the construction, and it was finished and opened on Sep. 30, 1940.

The photo below was taken by Harry Priest on the day of the opening of the Post Office.

The Merritt Herald reported that the total cost of the building was $18,766 (approximately $314,000 in today’s money). 

The 15-inch-thick walls were made from Port Haney Terricotta Brick and tile and the doorframe was fitted with an oak-grained fir with brass foot plates.

The windows were painted a dark green as they believed that the copper on the roof would slowly turn green and match. The inside was adorned with white walls and a green-asphalt tile floor.

The Nicola Valley Museum and Archives is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Tuesday until Saturday. If you have any questions about the history of the Nicola Valley or the City of Merritt, give us a call, send us an email, or stop in!