First Toronto Post Office

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Toronto's First Post Office
Fourth York Post Office
First Toronto Post Office 2022.jpg
Location260 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates43°39′06.65″N 79°22′14.34″W / 43.6518472°N 79.3706500°W / 43.6518472; -79.3706500Coordinates: 43°39′06.65″N 79°22′14.34″W / 43.6518472°N 79.3706500°W / 43.6518472; -79.3706500
Original usePost office and home
Current useMuseum and post outlet/authorized postal dealer
Governing bodyTown of York Historical Society
Official nameFourth York Post Office
DesignatedJune 16, 1980
DesignatedNovember 26, 1975

Toronto's First Post Office (also known as the Fourth York Post Office National Historic Site of Canada) is a historic post office in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the oldest purpose-built post office in Canada that functioned as a department of the British Royal Mail, and the only surviving example. After its initial use as a post office, it became part of a Roman Catholic boys' school (De La Salle College) and later a cold storage building. Located at 260 Adelaide Street East in downtown Toronto, the building now houses a museum and a full-service post office, run by the Town of York Historical Society.


The building c. 1839.

The building opened in 1833, before York became the City of Toronto. Therefore, the post office is known both as the "Fourth York Post Office" (as there had been three prior post offices in the settlement) and "Toronto's First Post Office" (as it was the first post office to serve the newly incorporated city).[1] The building served as a post office until 1837.[1] James Scott Howard served as the first postmaster.[1]

Some sources, such as John Ross Robertson, say that this building, although built in 1832, was not used as a post office until 1836.[2] The first city directories of Toronto identify this building, but they also identify the older post office in town (the second post office) as being an active post office in the city. This would mean that this building was one of two post offices that existed when Toronto was founded and would have been the newer post office of the time.[2]

After the school vacated the building in 1913, the building was leased for various uses until 1925, under the ownership of Christie, Brown and Company, owner of the biscuit factory across the street. In 1925, the United Farmers' Co-Operative Company bought the building along with the adjoining De La Salle building and the Bank of Upper Canada building. The post office building was converted into a cold storage food warehouse, and used in this way until 1956, when UFC sold the building. The building was used for various uses until 1971, when it was closed up and left vacant, waiting for demolition and redevelopment. The building, along with the De La Salle and bank building was bought by Sheldon and Judith Godfrey for restoration. The Godfreys discovered that the building was in fact the old post office building. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980.[1][3] The property is also protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act since 1975 and also enjoys an Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement Agreement since 2015.[4]

The First Post Office museum opened in 1983.[5]

Current use[edit]

Museum inside the post office
Postal counter inside the building. The building operates as a full-service post office and period museum.

The building was re-opened in 1982 with its present use as museum and period-style post office. The museum is Canada's oldest surviving purpose-built post office, serving as both a museum and full-service postal outlet. Toronto's First Post Office is an authorized full-service dealer for Canada Post.[6] Toronto's First Post Office is operated by the Town of York Historical Society.


The style of the building is late Georgian architecture. It was originally a three-storey building, with two front doors, one for the private residence and one for the post office proper. At the time, postmasters lived in the same building as their post office. The fourth-storey roof was added in 1876, while the building was part of De La Salle Institute (today's De La Salle College), a Roman Catholic boys' school, which had built an adjoining building between the post office and the Bank of Upper Canada Building to the west.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Fourth York Post Office National Historic Site of Canada". Parks Canada. 2019. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Ross Robertson, John (1894). "51: The Post Offices". Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto.
  3. ^ "Fourth York Post Office National Historic Site of Canada". Canadian Register of Historic Places. 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "Heritage Property Detail". City of Toronto Heritage. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  5. ^ Micallef, Shawn (December 5, 2015). "Toronto's First Post Office delivers rich history lesson". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  6. ^ "About the Post Office". 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  7. ^ "De La Salle Institute Building 1871". 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2019.

External links[edit]