Hespeler Post Office
Hespeler Post Office
by Lary Turner
The story of mail delivery in our community is one of proud and dependable public service. In the early years of settlement in Waterloo County, mail was delivered weekly by horse drawn stagecoach over rough roads that were sometimes blocked by snow or washed out by rain. Daily service did not begin until 1845; but with the arrival of the railroad to our village in 1857, mail moved more securely and much faster.
The first Village of New Hope post office was established from 1851 to 1858 in Jacob Hespeler’s store at the corner of Queen St. East & Chapel St.; with Conrad Nahrgang as the first postmaster at a salary of $200 per annum. The village name was changed to Hespeler in 1858 and the post office was moved to the corner of Adam St. and Queen St. East, where Conrad Nahrgang opened his own store an continued until 1868.
Following his passing, Mrs. E. Nahrgang assumed the position, in an acting capacity, from 1868 to 1869. John Chapman became postmaster in 1869 and operated the office from his store at 22-24 Queen St. East until 1890.
His son George Chapman succeeded him and operated the office from 1891 to 1904 from his store in the Panabaker Block. He in turn was followed by C. M. Schultz who was postmaster from 1904 to 1937. He operated out if his shoe store at 2 Queen St. East until 1929 when the federal Hespeler Post Office building was erected at 74 Queen St. East and opened with an elaborate ceremony on October 19 of that year. Mrs. M. L. Schultz became acting postmaster until 1938, when Norman Urstadt was appointed and remained in the position until 1942.
Miss A. E. Runstedtler then assumed the role, in an acting position, until 1947 when G.W.F. Bloomfield was appointed and remained until 1953. He was followed by W. F. Fowler until 1957 when Howard Ranck was appointed. Mr. Ranck served until 1959, when Hespeler’s last postmaster, Ernest Wildfong took over until his untimely death in 1976.
On June 28, 1971, door-to-door-mail delivery became a reality in the Town of Hespeler with a special ceremony held on a suitably decorated stage erected on the steps of the building. The Director of Postal Services for SW Ontario, Mr. Harry Murray presided over the occasion. Rev. Father D.D. Simpson offered the invocation.
Hespeler Post Master Ernest Wildfong introduced the officials responsible for organizing the new delivery service and the six new Letter Carriers responsible for delivery in the various routes; William “Bill” Cutting, Robert “Bob” O’Krafka, William “Bill” Russ, Lawrence “Lary” Turner, Roderick “Rod” Alexander and Donald “Don” Cressman. Mr. J. B. Morrison, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to Postmaster General Cote, gave a brief history of the Hespeler Post Office.
Waterloo South M.P. Max Saltsman welcomed the Post Office Department officials to Hespeler. Mayor E. G. “Ted” Wake addressed the crowd and pointed out the importance of postal service to the town, and “with the new service the Town has reached an age of maturity”. Following his address, the first letter was delivered to Mayor Wake by newly hired Letter Carrier Robert “Bob” O’Krafka. After opening it, the Mayor read the letter to the gathering from Postmaster General Cote expressing greetings and congratulations on behalf of the Federal Government.
The ceremony concluded with a prayer offered by Rev. W. Fearn of St. Luke’s United Church and those present were invited to inspect the new temporary facilities set up in a nearby former school, pending an addition to the post office building. Meanwhile, the new Letter Carriers were excused to begin their duties.
Following Mr. Wildfong’s death, in 1977 the Hespeler Post Office became a postal station of the Cambridge Post Office. In 1982, the building became a Letter Carrier Depot of the Kitchener Post Office, and in 1999 the Hespeler L.C. Depot was amalgamated into the Preston Letter Carrier Depot and the building was sold by Canada Post Corporation. The main floor was rented to a flower shop for a number of years and than sold to the City of Cambridge. It is now home to the Fashion History Museum.