Special stamps mark Argenta post office centennial

Three sets of commemorative stamps were unveiled Wednesday as the local post office turned 100.



ARGENTA — Three sets of commemorative stamps were unveiled Wednesday as the local post office turned 100.

To mark the centennial of the remote Kootenay Lake community’s mail service, anyone who ever lived there was asked to submit images that represented Argenta. Ten were received, and a vote held for the top three.

The favourites were a watercolor painting of the Argenta wharf by Phyllis Margolin, a hyper-realistic photo of Mount Willett by John Hawkins, and a photograph of the road into Argenta by Charles Valentine, taken in the fall of 1955.

That made things slightly more challenging for organizer Deb Borsos, since all three residents have passed away. Borsos previously used her own artwork to create personalized stamps through a Canada Post program called Picture Postage, but in this case needed written permission from each estate.

“Canada Post wrote to me because I forgot to check the box saying ’No, it’s not my work,’” she says. “They obviously have a file, because they wrote back saying ‘This doesn’t look like your artwork.’”

Once permission was granted, she had 100 cards created with matching envelopes bearing the special stamps, and handed them out at a community celebration this week, where people filled them out and mailed them hither and yon.

Framed sheets of the stamps were also made to display in the post office.

Herbison family produced several postmasters

The original Argenta post office opened in 1899, following a boom spurred by railway construction, but closed three years later. It reopened on October 1, 1914 and has had at least a dozen postmasters. The longest serving was Esther Coleman, from 1916 to 1948, but collectively the job has been in the Herbison family even longer.

“My dad did it, my sister Kathy did it for umpteen years, my former wife Rachel did it, and I took over from her,” said David Herbison, who retired in March after about 15 years. “It was just by default. It was two to three days a week and close to home.”

Herbison said he always thought per capita use of the Argenta post office was “fairly high.”

“Certainly that was true in letter writing days. We had the Argenta Press and school here in days gone by. Now with people buying things online, it’s like Christmas everyday. Parcel volume is definitely up and a hand-written letter is a rarity indeed.”

The mail comes three times a week by truck, but until the 1960s, it arrived by boat, first on CPR sternwheelers including the SS Moyie and later the tug Grant Hall. That finally changed when new roads were built as part of the Duncan dam’s construction.

The post office itself has moved several times: it used to operate out of the postmaster’s home, but since about 1980 has been adjacent to the present community hall. It was the first thing rebuilt following a fire that consumed the school and a shed next door that then served as the post office.

Herbison told those gathered this week he was concerned Canada Post might use his retirement as an excuse to close the office, but is heartened it continues to operate under Julie Davies.

He said the post office remains a critical part of the community and being postmaster is more than just a job. “You see your neighbours in ones and twos so you can actually talk to people and see how they’re doing,” he said. “Not only as postmaster, but as a longtime resident, it’s nice to be connected to multiple generations as well as newer individuals who come to town. I looked at it as a unique and wonderful position.”

Just Posted

Campbell scores in OT as Leafs outlast Nitehawks 7-6

Nelson gave up three leads against rival Beaver Valley

Winlaw mosquito control referendum fails

The initiative received 339 votes against, and 118 in favour

COLUMN: Celebrate the season at Nelson’s Civic Theatre

The Civic Theatre presents a program of Halloween delights

Applications sought for annual Nelson heritage award

Deadline for submissions is Oct. 30.

Playmor Junction daycare expansion faces opposition

Neighbours upset with rezoning application, citing traffic, noise and concerns about future uses

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. VIEWS: Businesses, residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

GUEST COLUMN: B.C.’s proportional representation vote is dishonest, misleading

Veteran of 2005 Citizens’ Assembly urges rejection of new voting systems

Prank pizzas delivered to B.C. mayor on election night

The fake orders happened throughout Victoria mayor’s re-election campaign

MLA to become Nanaimo’s next mayor, could weaken NDP’s grasp on power

Leonard Krog’s win will trigger a byelection when he gives up his provincial seat

Most Read