Humboldt Post Office National Historic Site of Canada
Humboldt Post Office
Bureau de poste de Humboldt
Links and documents
1911/01/01 to 1912/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
At the most prominent intersection in the Saskatchewan city of Humboldt (113 km east of Saskatoon) is located the Humboldt Post Office National Historic Site of Canada. Constructed in 1911-1912, it is a two-and-a-half-storey, red-brown brick building with a high mansard roof sheathed in silver metal. A four-storey bell and clock tower anchors the principal corner. This Romanesque Revival style former post office has buff limestone coping and foundations. A low addition on the north side along Main Street picks up the shape and spacing of the original windows. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.
The Humboldt Post Office was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1977 because:
- the quality of its design, with its Romanesque windows and large clock tower in the same style, made this an important building in a newly-developing small town, and represented the extension of federal services across the west.
When the town incorporated in 1907, it was experiencing a lively period of growth fueled by successful agricultural development in the surrounding parkland. The decision by the federal government to install this Government of Canada building, which included a post office, a customs and excise building and its telegraph office, confirmed the rise of Humboldt over neighbouring towns. Like many Saskatchewan towns, its growth plateaued creating a stable and prosperous population. The Humboldt Post Office remains one of the dominant buildings on Main Street and is a landmark in the community.
The Humboldt Post Office was constructed between 1911 and 1912 using a particularly attractive design supplied by the Department of Public Works in Ottawa as part of the Federal Government’s push to provide essential services in developing areas. Its plans were signed by David Ewart of the Office of the Dominion Architect. It is a two-and-a-half-storey building with large dormered gables and stone labels set into the steeply-pitched mansard roof. A four-storey clock and bell tower anchors the corner and also becomes the double entrance to the post office. The customs entrance, less used by the public, is through a third door halfway along the south elevation on 6th Avenue. The windows, doors and dormers on the first floor are round-headed in the Romanesque style, detailed with brick voussoirs and lugsills, while windows on the second floor and tower are flat-headed. A belt course at the roofline and along the base of the tower creates visual interest.
Within its walls were a range of federal government services, including a post office, customs, and weights and measures office located on the first floor, and a customs and inland revenue building and an office for the commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) located on the second floor. Remains of the caretaker’s quarters are still readily apparent under the angled trusses of the third floor. The RCMP maintained living quarters for its officers here from 1935 to 1964 after the customs office closed. Humboldt’s local police force also kept an office here in the 1940s.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Agenda Paper, June 1977.
Key elements that express the heritage value of the Humboldt Post Office include:
- its commanding presence on Main Street with two prominent façades joined by a large four-storey clock tower;
- the lively roofline with gables set in a steeply-pitched mansard slope;
- its two arched entrances at the base of the tower, each inscribed with “Post Office” in limestone above the doors;
- its projecting side entrance with a large gable overhead to designate the secondary occupants of the building;
- the volume defining the former post office lobby with surviving finishes such as the terrazzo floor;
- the original dark varnished wood staircase by the customs entrance, with a low balustrade;
- evidence of the original functional design such as the surviving layout on the third floor.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1952/01/01 to 1952/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Customs Building
- Police Station
- Post Office
Architect / Designer
David Ewart, Dominion Architect
Brown Construction Company
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection