Fur Trade Stories   Teaching Tips
  En Français
  Identity, Culture
& Communities
  The Land: People
& Places
  Historical Connections
  Power & Authority
  Economics & Resources

Search the entire site
Search this time
period only
Fur Trade Stories Timeline
  From 1600 to 1867
Home >> From 1600 to 1867 >> Identity, Culture & Communities >> Artifacts

Daily life and challenges for the various groups involved in the fur trade.

Image 1
Creator: Charles Adams; Western Subarctic; Cumberland House Post, Saskatchewan
Year made: Early 1850s
Dimensions: 184.5 cm long; 45 cm wide; 81 cm high
Location: The Manitoba Museum; Artifact HBC 1237
Copyright Holder: The Manitoba Museum

(M35) Mailbox Bench

Painted red bench converted into a slotted letterbox for sorting correspondence according to various trading districts in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The seat of the bench has four mail slots cut into removable panels.

Four districts are represented with symbols that have been applied in paint to the front panels of the bench. The Red River is represented with grasshoppers and a Manitoba crocus, Norway House with a male deer, Saskatchewan with two bison, and Cumberland House with a bear.

Other Related Material
Read more about mail delivery - enter 'mail' in the search box to your left.

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., type in 'Cumberland House,' 'mail,' 'communication,' etc.

Visit Cumberland House Historical Park, the site of the first inland Hudson’s Bay Company post and the oldest village in Saskatchewan.

Did You Know?
This bench was first used in the mid-1850s at the trade store at Cumberland House, located in present-day Saskatchewan.

It was later moved to the district office at the same location where it was painted red and divided into compartments for mail.

Charles Adams, clerk and acting accountant for the Hudson’s Bay Company until 1872, painted the symbols on the box. Cumberland House Post received the Northern District’s mail as well as that for other posts located in Saskatchewan, and Edmonton.

Mail destined for York Factory, Norway House, Fort Garry and Europe was also transported through Cumberland House.

Mail was transported using wooden boxes known as “packet boxes” that could be locked for security. The term “packet” was used to describe a parcel or package of correspondence, official instructions, reports and other documents.

Packets were transported from the Governor and Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company in London by ship in the spring and then overland to the major trading posts. From there, the mail was redistributed to their destinations.