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June Events in Metro Vancouver 2012

Vancouver Icons: Main Post Office

May 29th, 2012 @ 3:34pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Heritage Vancouver recently released its list of the Top 10 Endangered Heritage Sites for 2012 and the Main Post Office on Georgia made the top of the list. It’s the focus of this week’s Vancouver Icons series.

Main Post Office
Photo credit: jmv on Flickr

Before this branch opened, Vancouver’s mail came through the post office at what is now Sinclair Centre, starting in 1910.

Built - Main Post Office (1958)
Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

From Heritage Vancouver: “The opening of the Main Post Office in 1958 marked a new phase in Vancouver’s development and growth as a regional centre in the postwar era. Today however, more than 50 years after this complex opened to the public, Canada Post’s operations have changed so extensively that a new Regional Mail Handling Facility is under construction near the airport, leaving the future of this fine building in doubt.” [Read full Endangered Site listing]

20120126-0198380-main-vancouver-post-office.jpg main post office
Photo credit: Roland & Michael McCarthy on Flickr

We might know the Main Post Office building for its giant Canadian flag, sported during the week of Canada Day, or for its cheap evening parking it’s after hours and you’re heading to the QE Theatre for a show. However this behemoth contains over 600,000 square feet of space, ramps, a helipad, elevators, and a 2,400-foot long underground conveyor belt that used to link the system to the trains coming into Waterfront station.

O Canada Banner at the Post Office
Photo credit: Graham Ballantyne & Christine Rondeau on Flickr

I found this City document about the tunnel and used it in a previous post about downtown tunnels:

“In 1954 the federal Minister of Public Works applied to the City for a ninety-nine (99) year lease of lands beneath City streets to construct and operate a mail transfer tunnel from the main CPR station to the newly to be constructed main Post Office. At that time the mail came to Vancouver on the CPR railway. As the Vancouver Charter then read, a lease in excess of thirty (30) years required the assent of the electors… The thirty (30) year lease with the federal Minister of Public Works was entered into October 10, 1957. Shortly after completion of the tunnel, mail began to move by air and so the tunnel was never used.”

The Main Post Office’s future is now uncertain and that is why it’s sitting on Heritage Vancouver’s list: “The federal government plans to sell the building and to date, no potential buyer has agreed to purchase and save this public landmark.”

Main Post Office
Photo credit: jmv on Flickr

Update: January 2013: The Main Post Office building has been sold. “Canada Post has confirmed to Global News that their main Vancouver office on Georgia and Homer has been sold to B.C. Investment Management Corporation.”

Other Vancouver Icons posts include: Planetarium Building, Lord Stanley Statue, Vancouver Library Central Branch, Victory Square, Digital Orca, The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible and recognizable to the public.

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4 comments

  1. Alan says:

    The tunnel has been used in a number of films I believe (might have been used in the Xfiles as well).

    Also don’t forget there is a giant stamp painted on the roof.

  2. zaelia says:

    I’ve also read that there are potential land claims by First Nations on the site.
    http://www.globalnews.ca/canada+post+to+close+downtown+facility+move+to+yvr/285909/story.html

  3. Rebecca,

    I didn’t know about the tunnel between the Post Office and the CPR station/Waterfront! That’d be a neat (historical) tour which could be tied into the historical railroad roots to the city and BC as a province joining confederation.

    For more icons (which are very likely on your list already), what about:
    * CPR/Waterfront station itself,
    * CNR/Pacific station,
    * Vancouver Block,
    * Birks Clock,
    * 9 O’Clock Gun
    * The ‘W’, about which I believe you may have written.

    Thanks for your post, B!

  4. Mark says:

    Here’s a photo of the Post Office while it was being built. Click on the image to activate the “zoom” feature…

    http://vintageairphotos.com/bo-56-400/

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