Stamp collector unearths postal history

According to Oakley, the original post office in Lake Country (Alvaston), was erroneously attributed to local early settlor

A stamp from the original post office in Winfield. called Alvaston.

Local stamp collector, Mark Oakley has been researching Lake Country postal history for an upcoming stamp show in Lake Country on February 28 and came across some interesting information about the early post office in the area.

According to Oakley, the original post office in Lake Country (Alvaston), was erroneously attributed to local early settlor and namesake of both Winfield and Wood Lake – Thomas Wood.

Oakley says prior to being named Winfield, the local post office was named Alvaston by original postmaster Arthur Chatterton, who named it after his home town of Alvaston, Derbyshire, England.

The name Alvaston and the post office lasted for just 10 years, from 1909 to 1919, thereafter becoming known as Winfield. Alvaston is oft referred to as Canada’s smallest post office with total revenues of $866.35 over the 10 years. Postage of the day being one cent per ounce for a standard letter; the postmaster was paid about $50 a year for his services.

The other thing Oakley discovered was that the Alvaston postmark is a very rare cancel, with no known copies in existence, said Oakley. Its value has not been established, but a copy could be worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

“Check your old correspondence for this cancellation – you may be sitting on a goldmine,” said Oakley.

Extensive research by Oakley revealed that there was no person named Thomas Alva Wood. Research of Newfoundland birth records, BC vital statistics and Federal census records of the day refer only to Thomas Wood. Oakley went so far as to contact a direct descendent of the Wood family who confirmed that Alva Wood was not the actual name – it was simply Thomas Wood. Who or how he became known as Thomas Alva Wood, is a mystery, as is the origins of attributing the Alvaston Post Office to him.

Oakley says stamp collecting is more than just small pieces of paper. It provides a window into the origins, culture, growth and development of Lake Country and Canada and is part of our rich 150 year history.

If you are interested in stamp collecting, come out to the Okanagan Mainline Philatelic Associations show and auction on January 28 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at the Seniors Centre on Bottom Wood Lake Road or contact Mark Oakley at 250 766 3332.

If you have an Alvaston cancelation – bring it along.

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