Duke (Adelaide) Street Post Office: 1830s and now
In 1834 when the town was incorporated as a city, York’s fourth post office became Toronto’s first. It had been built the previous year by James Scott Howard, then postmaster of York, and originally served him as both post office and family residence. Its proximity to the Bank of Upper Canada, from which Howard had purchased the plot of land, created a financial centre and communications hub for a city that was home to about 9,000 people.
Today, Toronto’s First Post Office operates in many roles. It thrives as a full-service post office, authorized by Canada Post, serving a vibrant and multicultural community. As the sole surviving example of a British Colonial post office in Canada (the Canadian postal service was established in 1851) it is the only museum in Canada that collects and studies pre-confederation British North-American postal history. Its library and archives are available to researchers by appointment. As a National Historic Site it tells the story of the Royal Mail in Upper Canada, of Toronto’s first postmaster and of the rebellion that had such an effect upon his career. A scale model of Toronto in 1837 helps provide a context for the post office that played such a central role in the early life of the city and of Upper Canada.
Visitors to Toronto’s First Post Office are given the opportunity to write letters with a quill pen and seal them with wax as was done in the 1830s. Special occasion letters, such as Valentines and letters to Santa, can be written on coloured paper and decorated with ribbons, lace and other fancy things. The museum’s education programs are designed to complement the school curriculum but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun for everyone.
For more about the history of postal service in York and early Toronto, please see the links in the nav box at the top of this page.
Duke Street Post Office, Toronto Public Library
Toronto's First Post Office, Parks Canada, Brian Morin.
Toronto’s First Post Office is located at 260 Adelaide Street East across from George Brown College. It is one block north of King and 1½ blocks east of Jarvis.
Paid parking is available to the north side of the building; enter off George Street.
A walk from the King subway station is under ten minutes or, if you prefer, eastbound streetcars can be taken for two stops (alight at Jarvis).
Wheelchair access is available at the north entrance only, via the George Street parking lot. Please call in advance if wheelchair access is required as the lot is invariably crowded.
Monday to Friday: 9-4
Closed on holiday Mondays and the Sundays preceding them.
Visitors to the museum are suggested to donate $2.00 when stopping by the museum. All donations help keep the museum's doors open to the public.
For only $2.00 plus postage visitors to the museum can write an old fashioned letter, written with a quill pen and sealed with imported Scottish sealing wax.
Toronto’s First Post Office is operated by the Town of York Historical Society, a legally incorporated non-profit organization and registered charity. Gratefully acknowledged is the support of the City of Toronto; the Ontario Ministry of Culture; our members, donors and customers; and Canada Post Corporation.