The post office in Steinbach is 70 years old now, and Steinbach City Councillor Bill Hiebert thought it would be interesting to take a step back in time to look at the origin of mail service in Steinbach.   

He looks all the way back to 1874. He says that when Steinbach was settled, we had no post office, so the methods of mail delivery were different than they are today.  

Mail used to be picked up by horse and wagon in Winnipeg.  

“It took a three day journey. One day to Winnipeg, second day arranging business in the city, the third day back to Steinbach.”  

Hiebert says that in the year 1900, the Canadian National Railway built a railroad from Winnipeg to Fort Francis, Ontario, which passed through Giroux. 

As a result, Giroux became known as Steinbach Station. 

“Mail came by rail to Giroux, and many Steinbach residents also caught the train to Winnipeg in Giroux.”  

He says things changed in 1940, when motor vehicle freight and mail delivery came directly from Winnipeg.   

Steinbach's very first post office was opened in 1884 by the Dominion of Canada Post Office. 

It was located on Main Street, and A.S. Friesen was appointed as postmaster.  

Hiebert says the position was considered prestigious, and Friesen served for 22 years.  

In 1908, Peter Gunther was appointed and served for nine years. Then was Peter Wiebe, who served for three.   

Hiebert says that by 1920, the qualifications to become postmaster had risen substantially.   

“Cornelius F. Barkman was selected and served Steinbach for the next 35 years.”  

He says Barkman was born in Steinbach, and was a well known citizen to the community. He took elementary school in Steinbach, and received his secondary education at Gretna Collegiate.  

“Following his education, Mr. Barkman taught school in Clearspring and Steinbach, ending his career as the principal of one of Steinbach's schools.”  

In 1920, there was a petition that requested that Mr. Barkman become the next postmaster. The petition was signed by several prominent citizens, and he was given the title.

During Mr. Barkman’s years as postmaster, the post office was on the corner of Friesen and Main, which is the parking lot at Main Bread and Butter right now.  

“It measured 16 feet by 28 feet, only 448 square feet. It housed 350 post office boxes and a bookstore.”  

In 1938, the Public Works Department of the Federal Government built an attractive new brick building where TD Bank stands today.   

Then in 1953, the present post office was opened and built at a cost of $142,222. The two-story building housed both the post office and the local RCMP detachment.   

“From my understanding, the former post office became the town hall, and was that till our current City Hall was constructed in 1966,” he says. “It's too bad that the building was destroyed because it would have made a spectacular heritage site.”  

In 1955, Mr. Barkman resigned and Mr. Neil Friesen was appointed postmaster.  

Hiebert says that during Mr. Friesen's tenure, the town of Steinbach had tremendous growth.   

“The RCMP station moved to a new location on Brant Street, and 1970 saw another addition to the post office expanding to become the distribution center for southeastern Manitoba, serving 2000 plus mailboxes and employing 10 full-time employees.”  

Hiebert says that in chatting with Brian Reimer, who directed Steinbach's post office after Mr. Friesen, he found out that management of the office has changed.   

“We no longer have the title postmaster in Steinbach, today we have area managers, directors, and lead hands.”  

In present day, Steinbach is served mostly by mail delivery to neighborhood post boxes, as well as businesses done by private contractors.  

People who live in rural surrounding areas still pick up their mail at the post office. And the post office also has a secondary warehouse located in Steinbach to accommodate distribution.