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Rare Kootenay cancel fetches $375

Updated: May 2, 2020

A rare postal cancellation from the Kootenay post office, dated August 1884, sold at auction last month for $375 Cdn. The envelope was mailed to “Mrs. O’Reilly, Point Ellice, Victoria.”

The Kootenay post office opened in 1866 on Wildhorse Creek, 12 miles northeast of present-day Cranbrook. It was renamed Wildhorse in 1895 and closed in 1900.


The letter was probably mailed by Peter O’Reilly, a government official who served in many different roles, to his wife Carry at their Victoria home, which is now a museum.


Wikipedia says: “O’Reilly was criticized in his time and by latter-day academics for largely shirking his duties and avoiding meetings with First Nations leaders, but the basis of the Indian Reserve system as it remains in British Columbia today is the outcome of his assignment.”


Carry O’Reilly was a sister to Joseph Trutch, BC’s first post-Confederation lieutenant governor.

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