Carribo / Cariboo / Caribou
Alexander George MacDonald was 18 years old when he received this letter postmarked Charlottetown, PEI January 21, 1878. It took only two days for the letter to arrive. Addressed to ‘Little Entrance Carribo’’, the area was also referred to as Cariboo or Caribou.
The three penny stamp is from the series called “Small Queen Period” 1870-1897, when stamps became smaller to save printing costs. It had been only since 1875 that stamps began to signify prepayment. Formerly, mail delivery was C.O.D. There was regular mail delivery between Caribou, NS and Wood Islands, PEI. Deliveries were made in winter by men hauling open boats over the ice.
The first map of the area from 1867 shows that J.P. McDonald, J. McDonald and William McDonald owned the land in the area of the Little Entrance. A century later this area would become Caribou Munroe Island Provincial Park.
This photograph shows the house at the Little Entrance where the envelope was found. Outside are 8 men, 6 women, a girl, a young boy, a baby, 2 horses and a dog. The portrait was quite elaborately posed with the mother holding the baby seated on a chair and everyone, including the dog, acknowledging the camera. Is this a portrait of the extended McDonald family? Are they celebrating the newly built house and, perhaps, confirming their claim on the land as settlers? A tree has been planted in front of the house, a symbol of promise. Today the house still stands and in front of it is a towering chestnut tree sixty feet high.