Hodge’s Cove Postal Service

Reprinted with permission from the book Hodge’s Cove by Eric Stringer, 2011

Before the establishment of a rural route in the postal service throughout the South West Arm, some of the communities had their own post office. For a time, the one in Hodge’s Cove served as well the two neighboring communities of Caplin Cove and Island Cove.

Today the ‘goods’ carried by the post office have changed markedly from what they were some years ago. At one time the mail order business from T. Eaton & Co. in Moncton NB, and Simpson’s-Sears in Halifax NS commanded much of the trade. However, the past twenty-five years have seen a significantly changed retail trade, the emphasis now being with local firms and even more so with businesses in Clarenville.[i]

Another difference had to do with the amount of ‘money mail’ that was carried by the service. Whether it is family allowances, pensions, employment insurance, or otherwise, much of the mail today can be termed “Cheque mail”. And, of course, the bills! From Newfoundland Power, Cable companies, and other utilities all come through the mail.

The method of delivery too has changed from what it was in these early days to what it has become today. Initially, mailboats were the primary mode of transportation used to deliver the mail. During that era, such people as Levi Smith of Southport; Sam Churchill, Albert John and Kenneth Vey, David Benson[ii], and Will and son Wilbur Stoyles, all of Hillview; and Baxter Gosse of Queen’s Cove have had their turn at running the mail by boat. In the 1950’s, when a highroad was constructed to connect the communities, automobiles became the logical successor.[iii]  Such people as Levi Frost, Don Avery, Nick Avery, Irene Critch, Gary Howse, Eric Goobie, and Gladys Stoyles comprise the most recent set of mail carriers.

In Hodge’s Cove itself quite a number of people operated the post office for a while. Among these were Rowland Peddle, Delilah Peddle, Susie Drover, Stephen Smith, Minnie Peddle, Ellen Catherine Curtis, Rita Drover, and Minnie and Fred Drover.  And there might have been another, a Mr. Jacob Higgins …  As a child I learned the following jingle:

Here’s Mr. Higgins (point finger at forehead)
And here’s his two men (point at the eyes)
Here’s his post office (point at the nose)
And here’s where he goes in (point at the mouth)
Chin-chopper, chin-chopper, chin-chopper, chin (point at the chin)

Some support for that ‘notion’ might be taken from a statement from Mr. Obediah Higgins (Mr. Higgins’ son) who related the following. He said that sometime during the First World War a telegraph company agent rented a room at the Higgins’s house. He said that the first telegraph that was sent from Hodge’s Cove originated from there.

To conclude on that key, it should be noted that, before the days of telephones in Hodge’s Cove, communications often took the form of messages that were relayed over the telegraph. This, too, was a function of the post office.


[i] Blame the businesses in Clarenville for much of the junk mail (furnace food, to the author) we receive.

[ii] During some months of the year, he used a Clydesdale horse and sleigh to deliver the mail, twice a week.

[iii] The change from boat to pick-up truck occurred during the term of Will and Wilbert Stoyles.