Postal usages in the Province of Quebec and Lower Canada until 1831
Postal usages in the Province of Quebec and Lower Canada until 1831, 2013 by Faucher, Christiane and Poitras, Jacques. The early development of the postal routes and means of transportation in the French colony of Quebec, and later Lower Canada. Colour. BNAPS Exhibit Series #74. Spiral, 86 pp.
The year 2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the beginnings of an organized postal system in Canada. In honour of this, the husband and wife team of Jacques Poitras and Christiane Faucher created Postal usages in the Province of Quebec and Lower Canada until 1831 to illustrate the early development of the postal routes and means of transportation in the Province of Quebec, and later Lower Canada.
The exhibit is divided into six parts: “Letters from the French Regime” describes letters before the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the earliest shown dated 1697; “The first postal route” – along the St. Lawrence between Quebec City and Montreal; “The way to Halifax and Gaspe Peninsula” – the American War of Independence effectively cut off Quebec and points west from New Brunswick and points east, a situation that did not improve much until after the War of 1812; “Development of new routes after the Napoleonic wars” – the growing population of Quebec wanted mail service to villages and towns not along the St. Lawrence; “Populated areas left untouched by the postal system in 1831” – in that year Upper and Lower Canada both protested to Britain the lack of further development of the postal system; and “Maritime and transatlantic mail” – letters sent by steamboat on the St. Lawrence or by larger sailing ships to France and the United Kingdom.
For each item the authors describe the route, the means of transportation and the applicable rate(s), followed by “Other points of interest”. Sometimes the route is simple and the means of transportation obvious, eg “Five miles by horse along the existing road.” Sometimes it is not, for instance a 1789 letter sent from Quebec to Montreal, then to Slave River in the Northwest Territories by voyageur canoe. Similarly, rates can be simple – 9d currency per sheet for a letter carried between 101 and 200 miles – or, for a letter travelling to the then fledgling United States, somewhat complex.
The notes in “Other points of interest” offer occasionally fascinating insights into the times. For example, a letter with the return address “De la grande maison” (“from the big house”) was written by a prisoner in the Quebec City jail. Another, a “Way” letter delivered by hand to the postal courier on the Halifax to Quebec route, travelled the first part of its journey via a courier travelling on snow shoes! Many of the covers are “Favour letters”, privately delivered because of the lack of postal services and not easy to find.
Christiane Faucher and Jacques Poitras, both retired teachers, are very active in Quebec and Canadian philately. Christiane is currently the acting president of Société d’Histoire postale du Québec and a member of many philatelic and postal history organisations. Her main collecting interests are official mail postal history and Quebec City’s illustrated covers. Jacques Poitras is Vice-President and Webmaster of the Fédération québécoise de Philatélie. He has written many articles on the subject of Lower Canada’s early postal history, and was chairman of both the “Royale 95” and “Royale 2008” exhibitions held in Quebec City. Both Christiane and Jacques are fellows of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada and members of Académie québécoise de philatélie.