Residents of Ahousaht can now pick up their mail within the village thanks to the efforts of Postmaster Rebecca Martin, who successfully moved the Canada Post office from the Ahousaht General Store to a central location in the community.
Prior to Dec. 13, people had to take a boat ride over to the nearby Ahousaht General store to pick up their mail twice a week. For a community of about 1,000, that’s a lot of boat rides.
“People would sometimes get stuck at the camp waiting for a boat in the rain,” said Martin.
Now, with the post office located in the basement of the Cha Chum Hiyup (Holistic Health) building near the school, residents can easily walk to there to pick up their mail.
According to the Library Archives of Canada, Ahousaht’s post office opened May 1, 1902, with Thomas Stockham serving as postmaster. The postmaster job changed hands several times over the years, with Bert Clayton taking over in 1948. He performed postmaster duties at the Ahousaht General Store location until 1963 when Hugh Clarke and his father Ivan purchased the property and took over.
For years Clarke would wait for the Tofino Air float plane to deliver mail, which he would sort into alphabetical boxes. People would come from Ahousaht by boat then wait at the counter for Clarke to pass them their mail. In later years, as Ahousaht’s population grew, numbered postal boxes were introduced.
Martin says the only reason the post office was located at the Ahousaht General Store is because the Clarke family provided a space for it. When she took over the job from other Clarke family members, Martin heard from people that it could be difficult to find a boat ride to get their mail.
About a year ago Martin began the process of having the post office moved to the main village. It was a matter of meeting with Ahousaht chief and council and finding a suitable location.
“There were lots of proposed locations, but I think below Cha Chum Hiyup is best,” said Martin. She noted that it’s a central location with an alarm system and surveillance cameras.
The mail is delivered by float plane every Tuesday and Thursday morning, then Martin sorts the mail into post office boxes. She opens the post office from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“Everybody is really excited that this happened,” said Martin, noting people’s frustration with not being able to get to the general store post office.
There are 149 post office boxes that have been transferred to the new post office from the general store. That is not enough to serve the community, said Martin, adding that there are up to six families using one box. She is working on getting more boxes for the community.