From Ken Clavette’s Album of Bygone Sandy Hill

Postal Terminal building—Besserer at Sussex

Built in 1935 the Art Deco Postal Terminal building on Besserer St.
City of Ottawa Archives A2009-0257

Sandy Hill was once home to the city’s main Post Office Terminal. Located on Besserer at Sussex, it was opened in 1936. It was a seven-storey Art Deco building designed by architect Cecil Burgess. That location was ideal because it connected directly to the railway network along the canal at a time when mail was moved by train.

Letter carrier at the Main Postal Terminal, Feb 7, 1938
LAC MIKAN 3383638

In the mid-1960s, plans were underway to build a new postal terminal along with a new train station outside of downtown Ottawa. In 1972 the federal government promised that as development took place three heritage buildings were to be saved:  the Union Station, the Transportation Building, and the Postal Terminal. But by the time Rideau Centre mall was opened on March 16, 1983 the terminal was gone, sacrificed to progress.

Christmas 1943: Students help sort mail for soldiers overseas. Note the separation between girls and boys.

I had a short-lived career working in that Besserer building when, in 1973, I and fellow high school class mates signed on to be Christmas mail sorters, working the graveyard shift. I fell asleep while sorting the mail and in class the next day and never returned. I left with a new respect for night shift workers and postal employees in general. I regret I did not appreciate the building when I had the chance.

Rear of the old Ottawa postal station on Besserer St
1953 Source unknown