Begun in 1910, just a few years after Edmonton was designated a "City," the original post office was constructed on the southeast corner of 100 Street NW and 101A Avenue NW just one block north of Jasper Avenue, and within sight of the Hotel Macdonald, which began construction the following year. The most splendid structure on the growing skyline upon completion, the Post Office was built with imported white stone from Tyndall, Manitoba, more than 1,300 kilometres away. The fine masonry detailing, copper-topped mansard roof, and prominent clock tower ensured the building's, and by extension the city's, status as a place of importance within Western Canada. 

Post office, looking south on 100 Street NW, opposite the MacLeod Building (1915, still extant), public domain archival image

Occupied until 1966, Edmonton's first post office was eventually abandoned in favour of its replacement, and the historic structure was left vacant for several years before its sale and eventual demolition in 1972 to make way for the Westin Hotel that stands on the site today. An act of vandalism to some, and a sign of progress to others, the erasure of such a significant pillar of Edmonton's past was remediated — at least in part — in 1978, at which time the salvaged clock and its inner workings were mounted and returned to their former place on the corner where the old clock tower has been for more than half a century, now accompanied by an explanatory plaque. 

Demolition underway in 1972, looking west on 101A Avenue NW, image by Flickr user jasonwoodhead23 via Creative Commons

Today the site of the aforementioned Westin Hotel, the preserved post office clock is all that remains of the former structure. The view today, as seen below, has been much altered save for the presence of the MacLeod Building and the Macdonald Hotel, which have been joined by a succession of modern edifices over the course of the intervening century. 

Preserved clock (left), on the former post office site, looking south on 100 Street NW, image via Google Maps

While the loss of Edmonton's first post office will continue to haunt the city's heritage supporters, the lessons learned in the process can serve as a guide for future heritage endeavours as the city continues to grow and redevelop at breakneck speed. 

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