Museum From Home
Here at Toronto’s First Post Office, we strongly believe in taking every opportunity share the story of the Town of York and early postal service in Toronto. Along with our virtual exhibits, we have developed various activities, games, and programs that can be explored from the comfort of your home by clicking the links below.
We encourage you to check back often as content is being added regularly.
DRAWING CONTEST: Mail Matters
Calling all artists between the ages of 4-12: sharpen those pencil crayons, moisten those watercolours, or fire up the iPad! We want to see your artistic flare!
Show us in a drawing how mail can help brighten someone’s day and share why mail matters to you.
The winning artwork will be featured on a limited edition run of Canadian postage stamps, to be sold exclusively at Toronto’s First Post Office, and will be featured in an upcoming issue of this newsletter.
Try your hand at solving this Toronto’s First Post Office themed crossword.
Introduced as a way of sending a short message, they quickly evolved beyond the practical purpose of communication, into a universal souvenir that brightens everyone’s mailboxes.
The first officially recognized postcard made by a postal operator was sent from Austria-Hungary on October 1st, 1869, following the suggestions of Dr. Emanuel Hermann. He had described the advantages of a “Correspondenz Karte” in an article in the Neue Freie Presse, noting that the time and effort involved in writing a letter was out of proportion to the size of the message sent. Dr. Hermann suggested that a cheaper and more practical method should be implemented for shorter, more efficient communications.
These recommendations impressed the Austrian Post, who put them into practice. Consisting of a light-brown 8.5x12cm rectangle with space for the address on the front, and room for a short message on the back, the postcard also featured an imprinted 2 Kreuzer stamp on top right corner, costing half the price of a normal letter. They caught on quickly. By the end of 1870, Great Britain, Finland, Switzerland and Württemberg (in current-day Germany) joined the countries issuing postal cards, with the United States following in 1873.
These days, the care and attention that is put into the sending of a postcard is what sets them apart in a world of instant communications. Surprise someone with an unexpected postcard today using one of the postcard designs below!
Design 1: Toronto’s First Post Office Postcard
Design 2: Town of York Postcard
- Download and print your selected postcard design double-sided on cardstock.
- Cut the postcard to size.
- Write a special message to a friend or family member. Looking for inpiration? Try these Writing Prompts
- Fill out the recipent information (Name, Address, City, Province, Postal Code)
- Place a stamp in the top right corner and place it in the mailbox.
Lesson Plan: How to Write a Letter
Back in the 1830s, Toronto’s First Post Office was an essential service in the Town of York. It facilitated communication with friends and family, and served as a community hub keeping people informed of local events and news.
These days, though methods of communication have greatly evolved, writing letters is still a great way to stay connected with others. Despite the prevalence of emails and text messages, letter writing remains an essential skill. By learning how to properly write and structure letters, students will improve their communication, social, and handwriting skills.
While you’re at it, check out the following sheets designed to help you through every step of the writing process:
Dear John Graves Simcoe
Imagine if you could travel back in time and talk to Simcoe. What would you like him to know about the future of our city?
In this activity, we invite you learn about John Graves Simcoe here, then write him a letter and share what you would want him to know about Toronto today. Use one of the templates below or make your own (Not sure how to write a letter? Check out our tutorial here.) This activity is suited to all ages.
Mail it to: Toronto’s First Post Office, 260 Adelaide St. E, Toronto, ON M5A 1N1
Please note that our Speaker Series is ongoing and more content will be added regularly.
The Royal Mail from York
This illustrated presentation with our Curator highlights the history of the postal service in the Town of York and the importance of the Royal Mail in the early city of Toronto.
Speaker: Zoé Delguste-Cincotta
A Biography of Elizabeth Simcoe
A talk on colonial artist and diarist Elizabeth Simcoe. This talk shares a few of the most compelling points of her life story, including her time on the Upper Canadian frontier, and draws on her own paintings and diary entries, to tell her story in her own words and images.
Speaker: Richard Fiennes-Clinton
Once More, With Lamplights!: From Theatre in Victorian Toronto to Victorian Theatre in Toronto
A talk highlighting theatre’s roots in Toronto. It also touches upon how Victorian Theatre techniques were utilized in Canada and how they are being adapted for performances today.
Speaker: Jackie Mahoney