Written by: Justin Brett
While looking around the Museum or our website, one might notice two names: David and Margaret Pim. They occupy a unique role to the Museum, as while they may not have had anything to do with the actual Museum, they did have a great deal to do with the building’s original function: The Sault’s Post Office. The couple served as the first two postmasters for the service, but their story goes much wider than that.
Much of David’s early life is unknown, but he was born in Dublin, Ireland around 1827, and was known to have lived in Toronto for some time after immigrating to Canada. It was there he met his to-be wife, Margaret Campbell Butchart, and the two were married in Owen Sound in 1852. Soon after, the two moved to Sault Ste. Marie.
It did not take long for the Pims to become important citizens of the growing town. Their first action of note was to purchase the rights to the land of the Old Stone House, which at that time was still owned by the Ermatinger Family. They put the property to use as a hotel, a job both seemed to excel at to some praise, with one tenant declaring, ‘never was there a more attentive landlord or landlady, nor have we tasted better provender since we landed in America’.
What David Pim is likely most well-known for, however, is being the Sault’s second-ever Postmaster, a role he took up in 1858. He ended up fulfilling much of his duties from his home in the Old Stone House, as he felt the then-current Post Office had grown too small (this being before the building that would become our Museum). As mail delivery could be uncertain in those times due to it being by boat or on foot, particularly in the winter months, David let people know when it had come in by raising a flag.
David accomplished other things in Sault Ste. Marie as well, being appointed both Revenue Inspector and Issuer of Shop and Tavern Licenses for the district of Algoma in 1861, which combined with his role as Postmaster certainly make for an impressive resume. He also began construction of a dock located at Pim Street, which later came to be the Government Dock in the same area. The Pim family was even partly connected to the Chicora Incident, when a second house David purchased served as headquarters for Colonel Wolsley while he was delayed passing through the Locks.
Sadly, in 1870 David Pim abruptly died of unknown causes at the age of 43. He was buried in Old Town Cemetery, where he remains to this day. His duties as Postmaster were taken up by Margaret, who became the first Postmistress for the Sault until 1903, when the Post Office was moved to the ‘modern’ building we know today. Three years later Margaret would pass away herself at the age of 72, the oldest living person in the Sault at that time. Her funeral was ‘largely attended’, and she was buried next to her husband in Old Town Cemetery. As you can see, the Pims had a great deal of influence on the Sault in its infancy, and although neither worked within this building it only seems right to honor them within it.