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Post Offices from the past: Featuring Fitzsimmons

By Wanda Zenner

Fitzsimmons is an unincorporated locality in northwest Alberta within the County of Grande Prairie No. 1. It is located approximately 30 km north-east of Grande Prairie or 10 km north of Bezanson. The area was formed around the Fitzsimmons School District No. 4500 which was approved on July 7, 1930 and named after a local homesteader, Scotty Fitzsimmons.

Original Fitzsimmons Post Office that was
operated out of Charles & Ruth Milner’s
home – still standing in 2020

Charles & Ruth Milner – Postmaster 1933-1947

Charles and Ruth Milner, originally from Three Hills, Alberta, moved to the fitzsimmons area in 1928 where they rented land. In 1933, the Milner’s moved to their homestead quarter (NW 23-73-3-W6). Shortly thereafter on August 30, 1933, Charles was appointed “Postmaster” and operated the Post Office out of his home. As the mail had to be hauled from the Bezanson Post Office and the Milner’s did not have a vehicle, a caboose was used. The caboose had a stove in it which made the trips in the wintertime quite comfortable.

In August 1940, Ruth became the “Acting Postmaster” as Charles had enlisted in the Army. Charles was stationed in Camrose and Ruth decided to join him in September 1940. The family made their home in Camrose once Charles was discharged.

Milner Mail Delivery Caboose

Charles Milner eventually resigned as “Postmaster” in December 1947. The Milner’s had two children; a son and a daughter. Charles passed away in 1963; Ruth in 2001. Both were buried at the Valleyview Cemetery in Camrose. The land on which the Fitzsimmons Post Office is located is currently owned by Wade McLeod.

Ruth Sorensen – Acting Postmaster 1940 – 1945
Ruth Sorensen became the “Acting Postmaster” once Ruth Milner moved to Camrose – a position she kept until 1945. Ruth had to haul the mail from Bezanson to the Post Office on the Milner property every Saturday and at times the roads were next to impassable.

Road to Fitzsimmons Post Office

The senior Sorensen’s were originally from Denmark and had settled in Saskatchewan followed by Manitoba before they arrived in the Fitzsimmons District in 1927 to homestead. Ruth and Tom had three children; Fred, Albert & Mary. They eventually retired in Grande Prairie. Ruth passed away in 1993, Tom in 1982; both were buried in the Grande Prairie Cemetery.

Maude Proffitt – Acting Postmaster 1945 – 1951

Albert and Maude Proffitt, originally from Kansas, USA arrived in the Calgary area in 1911 where they farmed until 1929 at which time they decided to move to the Peace River District. In 1930, Albert filed a homestead application on SE 22-73-3-W6 in
the Fitzsimmons area. The Proffitt’s had two daughters; Mildred and Bertha.

Maude became the “Acting Postmaster” in November 1945. The Post Office was closed on April 21, 1951 when the Bezanson Post Office became the central Outlet for the enlarged area. The Proffitt’s moved to the Hamlet of Bezanson in 1954. When Albert passed away in 1965, Ruth moved to Grande Prairie where she remained until she passed away in 1980. Both were buried at the Glen Leslie Cemetery.

References
Smoky to Grande Prairie History Book
SPRA Land Settlement Database
Interview with Ellie (McLeod) Cartwright
Wikipedia
Library & Archives Canada Post Office Database
Pictures – Wanda Zenner Collection