Burrard Inlet B.C. is the name of a post office in the province of B.C. Very few people can locate this post office on a map. Some realize it is the beautiful salt-water inlet that starts under the Lion’s Gate Bridge and stretches past the city of Vancouver for thirty miles inland, through fjord-like scenery to its headwaters at Indian Meadows.
It was the last Travelling Post Office (TPO) in British Columbia. This TPO was a travelling post office boat serving the little settlements along both sides of Burrard Inlet. The initial trip was January 1st, 1908, and it ceased functioning October 3rd, 1970.
A succession of small vessels serviced the inlet for over thirty years. The last one was the M.V. Scenic, calling Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the winter, and daily except Sunday in the summer. The Post Office Department, as a convenience for the resorts on the inlet, which were non-postal points, established this T.P.O. aboard the vessel with the captain as postmaster.
The boat left Vancouver at 8 A.M. and returned at 6 P.M. Many tourists patronized this run in the summer as the lay-over at Indian Meadows was for several hours. A picnic lunch on the beach gave one a chance to stretch the legs.
The vessel also carried freight and consequently had to call at most docks. If perchance there was no freight, the boat hove to and if mail service was wanted a signal or person on the dock indicated this and the boat would pull in. If a register, money order, or just a purchase of stamps was needed the customer came aboard to the tiny post office and completed the transaction.
The ports of call on this route were quite suggestive: Balcarra, Coombes, Cosy Cove, Jug Island, Grey Rocks, Woodlands, Sunshine, Alder Creek, Fernlee, Twin Islands, Belvedere, Brighton Beach, Orlahoma, Frames Landing, Thwaytes Island, Lake Buntzen, Silver Falls, and Indian Meadows. The vessel travelled up one side east-bound and down the other west-bound.
Here was a chance to see gorgeous scenery and enjoy leisure hours seeing people swimming, boating and fishing, and to watch a unique post office function. It was a sad day when M.V. Scenic sailed for her last trip in government employ.
First published in The Guideline, Journal of the VIPS, November 1984
by Lester Small
About Lester Small
From 1984 to 1988, there were a number of articles about Canadian postal history (most of them about British Columbia) in The Guideline, the newsletter of the Vancouver Island Philatelic Society. Almost all of these were written by Lester Small (Member #341). Lester – a clerk at the Victoria Post Office – was also active in the Greater Victoria Philatelic Society. He organized the junior programme of the GVPS, and looked after the junior stamp club for 35 years.