Visiting the Post Office at Elora, Ontario: sandstone monumentality, and disaster averted
A prominent public building in Romanesque style
The Dominion (now known as Federal) Postal authorities in 1911 sponsored an architecturally substantial project in Elora, Ontario: the building of a large, solid Post Office, meritorious for its design features.
60 years later, those same Federal Postal authorities wanted to demolish it.
However, a public outcry (1) caused blinkered bureaucrats finally to see sense; local architect John Andrews was among those prominent in a strong local movement to avert such a disaster. Instead, the existing building was expanded and refurbished; it is now a heritage property.
The architect was W. A. Mahoney. Executed in Romanesque style, the most conspicuous feature of the building is its clock tower, with a somewhat unusual eve design, incorporating the clock faces, known as eve eyebrows. The design of the remaining eves also gives a strong sense of contrasting angles and shapes. The clock tower was once served by a 362.9 kg (800 lb) bell, cast in England.
This solid structure's main building material is sandstone; interestingly, this Post Office thus differs in its building material compared with many other Canadian Post Office buildings of its day which were often made of red brick (2).
The upper storey of Elora's Post Office was formerly occupied by the Postmaster.
It is worthwhile noting also that the Post Office at the Ontario town of Fergus, near Elora, is very similar in design to that of Elora; again, architect W. A. Mahoney was responsible.
Elora Post Office was formally opened in 1912; although Elora possessed a post office (located within the premises of a local business) as far back as 1835.
With this and other prominent buildings in the downtown area of Elora, the visitor gets the sense of a quiet, Ontario locality which has hardly changed from the way it looked a century ago. (Local residents must be particularly glad that the Federal postal authorities finally agreed not to foist some monstrosity on the site of the existing building, by way of a replacement scheme on the part of bureaucratic vandals!) In practical terms also, there has been a rather strong sense of continuity down the decades at this Federal building: by way of example, an employee, Miss Norah Webster, served here for 46 years (1).
Until 1959, a significant proportion of Elora's mail was moved by rail; until road transportation was deemed to be more economic.
Elora is situated in the Township of Centre Wellington, in Ontario's Wellington region. The Post Office at Elora is located at 128 Geddes Street, bordering on MacDonald Square.
September 26, 2015
(1) See also: http://www.centrewellington.ca/beactive/Pages/Heritage/Heritage%20Register/Geddes-Street-128-Elora-Post-Office.aspx
(2) See also: http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=10978
Also worth seeing
In Elora itself, the picturesque Gorge, the Mill and the adjacent Tooth of TIme rock on the Grand River, and the riverside shops are well-known features.
St Jacobs (distance: 25.7 kilometres), a picturesque village, with Mennonite heritage, which attracts many visitors, situated in the Township of Woolwich, and with a popular, nearby Farmer's Market, .
West Montrose (distance: 13.7 kilometres), a quaint locality in the Township of Woolwich, with a remarkable, covered bridge dating from 1881; the village has long been noted for the presence of Old Order Mennonites.
Woodside , Kitchener (distance: 28.6 kilometres), the boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950), Canada's longest-serving Prime Minister, now a National Historic Site of Canada and museum.
How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson to Elora: approx. 97 kilometres.) WestJet and Bearskin Airlines fly to Waterloo Regional Airport, from where car rental is available, from Calgary and Ottawa respectively. (Distance from Waterloo Regional Airport to Elora: 31.4 kilometres.) Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to check for up to date information with the airline or your travel agent.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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