Description of Historic Place
The Langbank Post Office was built on Lot 21, Concession 11 of Dawn Township, and subsequently moved to the Oil Museum of Canada grounds in 1975. Constructed in 1895, the Post Office is a traditional log structure.
The structure was designated by the Village of Oil Springs under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-Law 2003-354, amended 2006-442) for its cultural and architectural value.
The Langbank Post Office was erected April 1st, 1895 in Dawn Township by resident James C. Wood. Its very existence demonstrates the determination and innovation of Lambton County's settlers. Wood, who had originally settled in Dawn Township, in 1859, was the Township's treasurer. He established the post office out of his own home to facilitate access to mail services for himself and his neighbours. He remained Post Master until December 23rd, 1905, when Ida Morningstar took over the duty. She remained Post Master until the business closed on July 31st, 1913, when a change in postal operations eliminated most small rural post offices. The land changed hands several times over the following decades. In 1966, it was sold to Lorne Northcott, who donated the old log house to the Oil Museum of Canada, in 1975. It is now on display on the grounds of the Oil Museum of Canada, 2423 Kelly Road, Oil Springs, Ontario.
This humble structure has significant cultural value because it reflects the determined spirit that drove individuals living in Lambton County in the late nineteenth century. At that time, mail arrived in Dawn Township by a stagecoach from Bothwell, which stopped in Florence. Dawn Township resident John C. Wood faced a twenty-two mile trek to collect his mail! He decided to approach the postal department with regards to opening a post office in his log house, and his bid was successful. To achieve his vision, Wood made several modifications to his log house, including the addition of a lean-to on the west end of his traditional log house. He opted to name the post office “Langbank,” reminiscent of the village where he had lived in south-western Scotland. On April 1st, 1895, the Langbank Post Office opened for business, with Wood serving as Post Master. He received assistance from Russell Sinclair, who initially brought the mail from Florence, twice a week, then tri-weekly, until finally the mail was being delivered every day.
The Langbank Post Office is an exceptional representation of pioneer log house construction. While some of the structure has been covered with board and batten siding, to prevent deterioration of the logs, original logs remain visible on an outside section, near the front porch, as well as in the north, west and south walls of the downstairs kitchen, and the east and south walls of the downstairs bedroom. These sections of original logs display the half-dovetail method of notching, a common and effective log house construction method utilized widely through to the late 1800s. The simple but effective construction method reflects Lambton County's legacy of hard work and perseverance. The log structure was donated by owner Lorne Northcott to the Oil Museum of Canada in 1975. Museum professionals ensured that the original logs were preserved during reassembly with new mortar, and the installation of board and batten siding for protective purposes. The Langbank Post Office has since been furnished with items donated to the Oil Museum of Canada, and is now part of a series of outdoor exhibits that visitors can enjoy and long-time county residents can visit to rediscover their roots.
Source: Village of Oil Springs Municipal Office: “Designation Data Sheet” and By-laws No. 354 of 2003 and 442 of 2006 (amendment).
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Langbank Post Office include its:
- log construction reflecting typical pioneer construction methods
- squared black ash logs
- half-dovetail notched corners (most effective and weather-proof construction method available)
- original logs, generally a foot wide with 3-6 inches of mortar between them
- board and batten siding, added in 1994
- kitchen, served by three windows, four over four panes, 2 1/2 feet wide and 4 feet high
- window on west side of kitchen with four original panes of glass
- downstairs bedroom with two four over four sashes; upstairs with three four over four sashes
- two ground level rooms with original wood floors
- upper half-story, finished at some point and divided into rooms
- 10 1/2 foot by 10 foot porch recently added, to reflect the need for public access to the structure
- siting alongside other contemporary structures