Joseph C. Irvine (1837-1888)
Post Office Pioneer
This colourful Scottish immigrant was a Klondyke gold rush veteran. After running unsuccessfully for political office in Ontario, he was appointed to the position of postmaster in 1882 by Sir John A. MacDonald. The monument of Regina’s first postmaster was almost lost to us due to callous and malicious vandalism in the Regina Cemetery.
A story teller of note, Joe contributed to the weaving of the early fabric of Regina.
Born in Lerwick, Scotland, Joseph came to Canada in 1856 after completing his education at the Montrose Academy. In 1862, he traveled to British Columbia with others who had “Gold Fever” and hoped to prosper in the gold rush. After five years of minimal success, he returned east to Edwardsburg, Ont., where he entered the mercantile business.
After serving as reeve and warden in the county council for three years, he entered
the 1879 provincial election as a candidate in the South Grenville riding. He lost, but was later appointed postmaster of Regina by Prime Minister John A. MacDonald. In 1882, Joseph traveled to the Queen City to assume his position in the newly established post office (later located at 12th Avenue and Scarth Street).
A sociable and well-liked person, he was one of Regina’s most prominent and constructive citizens. He was often remembered for his tales of “the early days” on the Prairies. As a result of the early date of his burial in the Regina Cemetery, his headstone has suffered more than 100 years of erosion and vandalism. A popular monument during the late 19th century, it is possible to see the wearing effects that cold winters and harsh summers have had on the stone by comparing the dull original surface to the gleaming white marble interior. Joseph’s wife was Cornelia (1838-1921).