I came to Victoria in 1917. My first home was on Willows Road at the entrance to the Victoria Exhibition grounds. Our house was on the right side of the entrance gates. Willows tram #11 came east up Cadboro Bay Road, turned west onto Willows north and entered an oval area, then back to town.
We had a loose board in the fence which saved money to enter the exhibition grounds. It was a fascinating group of buildings with a race track and grandstand.
It was during the war years that this site was the Willows Park Army Camp. It was fortunate that a large body of men were stationed here when we had a six foot fall of snow, to dig us out. Sub X was the name of the Army Post Office while the military had possession of the fair grounds. It opened December 11, 1914 lasting until July 15, 1916 when it was temporarily closed.
When Canadian forces were sent to Siberia, the exhibition grounds were again used as a staging place from April 1, 1918 until January 1, 1919. For several years after the war, a post office functioned during Exhibition week. It was a fairly large office unit. The mail was cancelled here by four postal clerks – Archie Gager, Joe Fish, Ted Bell, and Charlie Henkins. As an adult I was to work with them in the main post office.
Today at 2405 Eastdowne is the Willowpark Grocery Store. This was the site of the Willowpark post office and was supplementary to Sub X. Willowpark was opened July 1, 1911 and closed November 1, 1916. It was then classed as a sub office – Victoria – Willowpark, and was closed on May 31, 1943.
First published in The Guideline, Journal of the VIPS, October 1987
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.