Canada Post has unveiled a new flagship facility in Scarborough that will be its “largest and greenest” parcel sorting plant and named after Toronto’s first black mail carrier.
The Albert Jackson Processing Center — a $470 million, state-of-the-art, zero-carbon factory slated to open in 2023 — will help address the dramatic surge in online shopping throughout the pandemic, which is expected to increase.
The plant will employ approximately 1,000 people and will be a key hub in the company’s national network, with the capacity to process more than one million parcels per day.
At a naming ceremony earlier this month, Canada Post President and CEO Doug Ettinger described the center as its “largest, greenest parcel sorting facility” that ” will improve service, reduce our environmental footprint and improve our employees’ overall work experience.”
“The past two years have shown us that we need to increase parcel capacity on our network to keep pace with growing demand. This is especially true for the Greater Toronto Area,” he said, adding that about 40% of all packages come from the GTA.
He said Gateway’s Mississauga facility, which is currently its largest plant, “has been stretched beyond capacity for several years.” The new facility – located at 1395 Tapscott Road, near Steeles Avenue East and Markham Road – will handle twice as many packages as Gateway.
Ettinger said inclusion has become “a big part of who we are and what we strive to be”, noting “like many companies, it’s taken time for us to get to this place. We haven’t always lived up to these ideals, but we’ve learned that it’s important to acknowledge our past, so we can do better.
That’s why Canada Post decided to name its facility after Albert Jackson, who is also considered the country’s first black mailman.
As the Toronto Star previously reported, when Jackson showed up for his first day on the job in 1882, white postmen refused to show him the rounds, outraged that his rank placed him above some white employees. The incident was discussed in local newspapers and Toronto’s black community rallied around Jackson, a former child slave from the United States who had fled north along the Underground Railroad.
Then-Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, facing intense pressure because it was an election year, intervened and Jackson received his postal itinerary. He remained a postman until his death in 1918, and in an obituary the Toronto Daily Star described Jackson as a “well-known figure in the downtown district.”
Grandson Lawrence Jackson, who was at the naming ceremony, said he was “incredibly happy” with the recognition.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what (Albert Jackson) started,” the last living grandson said. “If he were alive today, working for the post office, the buttons would be popping off his jacket because he loved postal workers, he loved his job and the people who supported him.”
“He had a dream and the dream came true,” said Lawrence Jackson. “His dream was to become something…He said, ‘We’re equals and we’re going to be treated the same.'”
Jackson’s legacy was recognized by a Canadian Union of Postal Workers poster in 2013. Two years later, a play about him was made. In 2017, a plaque was unveiled at the former Toronto General Post Office site. And in 2019, Jackson was commemorated on a stamp.