rusty_armour (rusty_armour) wrote,

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Afternoon Tea at Toronto's First Post Office

I know. Three posts in two days is a bit excessive for me (even when it's fic-related), but I had to write something about my afternoon tea experience. Muddy York Tours sent out an email invitation to people who had gone on walks this year to attend a holiday tea and history talk in the museum at Toronto's First Post Office, so I thought I'd accept. I liked the idea of sipping tea in front of a Georgian fireplace and hearing stories about how certain Christmas traditions came to Toronto. As I hadn't been to Toronto's First Post Office before I was really curious to see it and I thought the stories should be good. Anywaaaay, to make a rambling story slightly shorter, I had a really lovely time.

Richard, the founder of Muddy York Tours had set up tables with treats and Christmas crackers. There was also a little colour pamphlet for everyone with a picture of the world's first commercially produced Christmas card on the front and some interesting historical information inside. Oh, and we each got our own pot of hot water and were given a choice of teas. I shared a table with five ladies, who were very nice to the strange woman who had been inserted into their party.

The post office is quite fascinating. It was built in 1833, which makes it one of the only Georgian buildings in the city. It's also one of the few surviving buildings from the old Town of York. Unfortunately, the only original aspects of the post office is the fireplace and the exterior of the building itself. However, there are a number of replicas inside, including an old press and some nibs and quills. In fact, the museum allows you to write your own letters using quills dipped in inkwells. Besides being a museum, the building now functions as an official post office once again. Full postal service re-commenced in 1983 after the Town of York Historical Society had the building restored after a fire in 1978. The post office has this old-fashioned look about it, and I absolutely love the front door. It had this tiny little door knob on the outside, but from the inside it's more complex. When people were leaving, Richard had to lift this wooden weight that was attached to a kind of pulley. There was also a metal grate that had to be opened once the weight had been lifted. In other words, we were essentially locked inside the post office.

The talk was very engaging. We learned about historical events that took place around the holidays, such as the signing of the Treaty of Ghent (a peace treaty for the War of 1812) on December 24, 1814. Richard also talked more about the history of the post office, the introduction of various Christmas traditions in Canada (mostly through Britain), and even Charles Dickens' visit to York (e.g. Toronto).

All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience. I was even given some leftover goodies to take home and it was nice to know that part of the money I paid went to maintaining the museum.
Tags: canadian history, toronto
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