February 16, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX: (Postmaster General)


1. Numerous communications and petitions have been addressed to the department from the local branches of the Lord's Day Alliance, and also from the citizens and business men throughout the west, asking that the lobbies of the post offices in that section of the country should not be opened for the convenience, of box holders on Sunday.
2. At the following post offices, viz: _ Bat-tleford, Saskatchewan; Brandon, Manitoba; Calgary, Alberta; Dauphin, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta; Emerson, Manitoba; Esquimau, British Columbia; Fernie, British Columbia; Lethbridge, Alberta; Macleod, Alberta; Maple Creek, Saskatchewan; Medicine Hat, Alberta; Moosejaw, Saskatchewan; Nanaimo, British Columbia; Nelson, British Columbia; New Westminster, British Columbia; Portage la Prairie, Manitoba; Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; Qu'Ap-pelle, Saskatchewan; Regina, Saskatchewan; Revelstoke, British Columbia; Ross-land, British Columbia; St. Boniface, Manitoba; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Vancouver, British Columbia; Victoria, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba.
3. The post offices have been closed on Sundays in the west in accordance with what is believed to be the spirit of the people of Canada-that Sunday should be observed as a day of rest and cessation from business. The privilege of keeping the post offices open in the west was given or rather taken in the early days when the train service was scarce and irregular and the arrival of mails uncertain. When great numbers of the people coming into the country as settlers, or prospective settlers, had their mail directed to certain points where they exepcted to be at certain dates, and when it was important that they should obtain their mail so that their progress in travelling should not be obstructed. Moreover, the offices were a great distance apart, and settlers only went for their mails on the days when they were least busy and when the exigencies of their business permitted them. This usually occurred on Sunday as even then the settlers, moved by the spirit of their early training, did not usually devote themselves to business and labour for financial gain, and a great majority of them went into the towns where the post offices were situated for the pur-, poses of public worship. Now, the situation is entirely different. The country is becoming settled, is intersected in all directions by lines of railway, and mails are received as regularly and frequently in all centres of the west as in the other and older parts of Canada, and the necessity which existed for keeping the offices open in the large towns and cities of western Canada, has entirely disappeared. Furthermore, it has been reported to the department by its officers, by many leading citizens, and men in religious and commercial life, that the result of business men obtaining their mails freely on Sunday has led to . the transaction of business at these western points and the forcing of employees to labour on Sunday almost as much as on week days, at all events to a sufficient extent to interfere with their enjoying any advantage which might accrue by Sunday being granted a day of rest. The statement that conditions in the west differ from those in the east is due to the fact that, not the mass of western people, but great numbers of business men have imported into Canada the practice of carrying on business on Sundays the same as any other day, notwithstanding that it is absolutely opposed to the best interests of labour and the laws and spirit of the Canadian people, viz: That every man may
enjoy where possible the benefit of Sunday as a day of rest.
4. The action of the government is not an experiment, nor is there any necessity for such an experiment. This has been tried in the cities of the east for many years, and it has been found that not only is no inconvenience caused to business, or to the travelling public, but that it has received the unanimous support of all classes of the community, who have found it to

be in the interests of both the employee and the employer.
5. The vast number of letters posted on Sunday, in fact, it might be said the whole of the letters posted on Sunday are not for local delivery, but for outside points and in most cases far distant points.. The refusal to receive these letters on Sunday would mean a delay during the week of perhaps 12 to 24 hours and serious inconvenience to business, and it cannot be compared with the delivery of mails on Sunday to addresses locally, where all unnecessary work is supposed to cease, particularly, in view of the fact that all such letters are delivered in plenty of time for the opening of business on Monday morning. Moreover, these trains would run whether mails were placed on them or not, and the public and business people would naturally resent any failure on the part of the department to .forward the mails on all running trains, involving as such action would make a delay of 24 hours in the transmission of a large portion of the correspondence for business centres. This has been specially recognized by parliament and exempted from the working of the Lord's Day Act.
' 6. The department is aware that for many years box holders have had access to their boxes on Sunday, but is not of the opinion that the present action will cause any serious inconvenience to the citizens at large, and has reason to believe that outside of the few business men who take advantage of Sunday delivery for the purpose of working themselves and their staff on Sunday, as well as the other days of the week, there is no desire for the keeping open of the post offices on Sunday.
7. The department is not aware that a large number of commercial men are said to arrange to pass Sunday in Winnipeg with their families to receive and answer their mail on that day.
3. Better opportunities for the observance of Sunday, and protection to labour.
9. The men engaged in sorting for Sunday box delivery will be relieved from duty. The department is unable to say definitely how many clerks require to be engaged in this work, but there must always be a considerable number of men engaged in sorting these mails for Sunday delivery.
10. The present action is not an experiment, but was taken after the fullest consideration by the department.
11. A circular was sent out from the department on the 20th January, 1910, to the postmasters of the offices above mentioned, instructing them that on and from the 1st February, 1910, the lobbies of their offices must be closed to the public on Sunday.

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