Situated at the top of Mountain Hill, l’ancien bureau de poste is an impressive building. My customers frequently ask: “Is it the Supreme Court building? The state house?” “No,” I say, disappointing them, “nothing of the sort, it is the old post office.”
In November of 1871, the last British troops left the city they had conquered 112 years earlier. While their departure certainly marked a significant turning point in Canadian history, it was not necessarily a good development for the city of Québec. Thousands of British troops within the city walls had meant thousands of dollars for the municipality; Québecers provided many of the goods and services that kept the British military running.
The construction of a new post office was thus welcome news. It would provide jobs and activity for a city that was losing a large portion of its economy. Authorities turned to architect and city engineer, Pierre Gauvreau, who built a grand edifice in Second Empire style, constructed of rock taken from nearby Saint-Marc-des-Carrières. A touch of the baroque would be added in the early twentieth century, when the south-eastern portion of the building was covered with a cupola and a copper dome.
That new post office has become the old post office — l’ancien bureau de poste, a building that recalls a time when paper-and-ink letters traveled the globe at the pace of a steam engine and were greeted with stately elegance in palaces of quarried limestone.