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Post office closes after 140 years

A local post office can be a great place to see a neighbour's face and have a brief visit. For Hargrave, that's now in the past.

A 140-year-old post office has just now closed its doors in the Hargrave community, just west of Virden. There's no one stepping up to take her place, so when the postmaster closed her wicket on Dec. 31, that marked the end of the in-person service in the little community.

Sandy Heaman, Hargrave’s final postmaster, has a plaque that chronicles the history, including the 17 years of her mother-in-law’s work. It reads:  Presented by the Rural Municipality of Wallace commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Hargrave and District Post Office, September 1981.

Postmasters: R.J. Hill – September 1881 – July 1894; Harry Cutfield, August 1894- April 1922; S. Comba, June 1922 – November 1926; Robert Tapp, January 1927 – April 1929; Frank Tinney, May 1929 – July 1939; H.O. Fowler, July 1939 – July 1945; Harold Heaman, July 1945 – September 1945; Tom Gordon, September 1945 – July 1966; Edward Page, July 1966 – July 1979; Joyce Heaman, July 1979 – July 1996.

Since the plaque’s last inscription, Mary Ellen Roach took over the post office in 1996, retiring at the end of 2002.

Sandy's story

“I opened up here Jan. 2, 2003,” says Heaman. She’s retired at the end of December 2021, concluding the in-person postal service to Hargrave of 140 years and her personal service of 18 years.

While it was just part-time, being the postmaster was an ideal job for Heaman, who also farmed with her husband Brian. Having the post office in their home meant that in the early days, she was there for her young son Johnathan to see him off to school, and when he got off the bus, her work with the mail was completed.

Heaman is looking forward to using her time in new ways. Of course, she and Brian would like to travel and now they are free to do so, having also downsized their farm commitments. But she's also looking forward to community work as well. "I'm hoping the world opens up," she says, thinking of the many activities that ground to a halt in 2020. "I would like to volunteer with some groups. There's going to be a huge need for that," she says, noting that it's two years on - it might be a good time for younger people to step up to help.

Hargrave community’s eight customers have now requested the service of community mailboxes, something that a Canada Post representative offered when he spoke to the municipal council of Wallace-Woodworth in November. The hamlet of Hargrave would seem to be a handy location providing a streetlight and space for parking at the boxes.

Heaman gave her notice in September, plenty of time she thought for Canada Post to put in place a new solution. However, at present, those rural customers are travelling to Elkhorn for their mail.