The Town of Indian Head

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To celebrate Canada’s 150th, the Indian Head Community Development Committee is sponsoring the publication of accounts from the Indian Head History Book (1984), celebrating stories of its founding families.

On August 17, 1882 a request was sent to the Postmaster General signed by 105 settlers that he "establish a Post Office here where it is very much needed at present". At this time the settlement was known as South Qu'Appelle. In his letter which accompanied the settlers' petition, William Walsh writes: "The settlers have now to go to Fort Qu'Appelle about 20 miles north of here for their letters and they find it very inconvenient to have to go so far as they lose a great deal of time and some of them have not the means of going such a distance." The settlers requested that the Post Office be established in the store of William Walsh and that he be appointed Postmaster "he being a fit and proper person to conduct same". Accompanying the settlers' request and the letter from Mr. Walsh was a recommendation from Capt. Thomas Scott, MP for the City of Winnipeg.

In his report to the Postmaster General W.W. McLeod, the Divisional Inspector for the region writes: "Indian Head...is another important station. It is distant about 22 miles from the Qu'Appelle and 12 miles now from the Troy Post Office. It is here that the now well known Bell Farming Company have their headquarters. One of the managers informed me that the Company already employed seventy-four and that they expected to give employment to fourteen hundred within three years. The neighborhood is a good and well settled one, and an Office would prove a great accommodation to a very large number of persons. Mr. Robert Crawford (late of Brockville, Ontario) is recommended for the Postmastership. A daily service of the proposed Office from the Station would cost about $80.00 per annum".

Three weeks later on Oct. 7 Mr. Robert R. Coleman wrote to the Post Master General in a letter headed: "Indian Head Station CPR, South Qu'Appelle, Oct.7, 1882." He begins by mentioning the requisition signed by the 105 settlers requesting that Mr. William Walsh be appointed Post Master and the endorsement by Capt. Scott, MP. He goes on to write: "Lately another applicant in the person of Mr. Crawford, connected with the Bell Farming Co. says he will be appointed Post Master and needs no requisition from the settlers. If this should occur the settlers will think it very unjust as Mr. Walsh has been chosen the most capable person and certainly the one most suited for the position of Post Master." Just a week later Inspector McLeod wrote the Post Master General that Post Offices had been opened at Indian Head and Moosomin. The Post Office at Indian Head was to be "under the charge of Mr. Robert Crawford". He goes on to say, "The Postmaster in each case is to perform the mail service at the same rate $78.00 per annum. I have supplied these Offices with such equipment and blanks as will enable them to carry on the work for a time, and I have also furnished each of them with Postage Stamps to the value of $54.00". He then tells the Post Master General, "I have in each instance selected the person who seemed to be the best qualified and best prepared for the duties of acting Postmaster, and I have been careful to particularly inform the parties that my action would give them no claim to a regular appointment".

Barely two weeks later a letter from Capt. Thomas Scott to the Postmaster General reads, "Mr. Walsh is in every sense worthy of your favorable consideration. I would respectfully urge that you do not overlook this as I think it is incumbent upon the Government to grant this little favor to Mr. Walsh as he has for many years been a strong supporter of the Conservative Party".

In a letter dated two months later, Dec. 18, 1882, from Mr. W. Sweetman, the Postmaster General is informed that "Mr. Robert Crawford, a good Conservative, and an excellent man in every way, was our Postmaster at Red Rock, Lake Superior, seven or eight years." He continues, "He tells me that an effort is being made by Mr. W.W. Walsh to secure the appointment. If it be not too late I should be very glad if you could see your way to placing the office in the hands of Mr. Robert Crawford...Mr. Crawford would make a Postmaster of the best possible kind".

Mr. Crawford held the position of Postmaster until his death in 1897, a term of 15 years.

The next Postmaster was James Harvey. His term lasted from 1898 to 1906 when he resigned. The Post Office business was conducted in a store and also in part of the old Mainline Motors building which is now demolished. When Arthur Leach became Postmaster in 1906 he built a new Post Office building.

Arthur Leach had come to Canada in 1886 crossing the ocean in a sailing ship owned by his father. He made his first connection with the post office that same year as a mail driver. His route was from Abernethy to Balcarres and return; from Abernethy to Blackwood, to Katepwe, to Indian Head. As the country settled Saltoun and Kenlis were added.

Nowhere in Saskatchewan is there a harder route to travel than that district was in certain times of the year when roads were poor or non-existent. The thermometer registered 53 degrees below zero the morning of his very first trip. Mr. Leach delivered mail by dog team, horses, ferry and later by automobile, through blizzards or floods or whatever nature had to offer. An account in "The Prairie Witness" May 11, 1904 relates: "Arthur Leach had another narrow escape last week while bringing the mail from Kenlis. When crossing the ferry at Katepwe one of the ropes broke. The ferry was swept down-stream by the current, a wire hawser drawing across and throwing the horses into the water some eight feet deep, where they hung suspended. The wheel of the mail wagon was caught on the railing. Leach dived under the ferry and after considerable trouble and danger to himself (he was kicked in the head and leg) managed to swim the team to shore. After this he secured a boat and landed the mail. All this was done in ice-cold water and Arthur deserves the heartiest congratulations for the extremely plucky manner in which he saved the mail and horses. Had he not been such a clever swimmer he would have lost his life when the accident happened for he was thrown out and came up underneath the scow." Arthur Leach took charge of the post office in May, 1906. After every inspection letters of praise came from the district superintendent. In his desk were many communications of praise from the great, the near-great and the lowly.

In January 1911 a few postmasters met in the King's Hotel in Regina to discuss and form the Saskatchewan branch of the Postmasters' Association. Mr. Leach was its first president. He was vice-president for many years until the pressure of work became too heavy. The whole of Canada owes a debt to Indian Head's postmaster who placed before the convention held in Saskatoon July 1924 a resolution to raise the parcel post limit from 11 to 25 pounds. His arguments were so sound and driven home with such vigor that the Post Office Department made the change as speedily as possible.

Mr. Leach took the oath of allegiance to every sovereign from Queen Victoria to King George VI. In 1911 he had his only holiday in the whole of his years as postmaster. That year he went to England on the "Coronation Boat", the last ship to carry visitors to the coronation of George V. The passenger list included the names of Canada's highest officials including that of the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Wilfred Laurier. Mr. Leach received and accepted an invitation to attend the Lord Mayor's banquet at the Guildhall which the newly-crowned King and Queen graced with their presence.

Mr. Leach remained as postmaster until his death in December 1949. It was at this time that a mail carrier service was established between the CPR station and the Post Office by a mail carrier who contracted each year for the job. This service continued until the 1970's when it was taken over entirely by a contracted trucking service. The carriers in town with the longest service were Frank Ashmore and Harold Fisher.

Arthur Wilfred Leach followed his father as Postmaster until his death in 1955. Miss Dorothy Elizabeth Watson had been a post office assistant since 1937 so was appointed Postmaster in 1956. The Post Office was moved into a new Federal Government building in 1961. After her marriage in 1968 D.E. Ashmore remained in office until March, 1973 when she retired after 35 years of service.

Jack Maddia, the present Postmaster, came in 1973 and since then Mrs. Beverley Fell served as Acting Postmaster for a few months when Jack was on a course in Saskatoon in 1981-82.
On Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1982 Indian Head and area customers, friends and employees attended the official Centennial celebrations of the Post office and were treated to birthday cake and coffee.

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