Unique postmark keeps N.S. post office busy during the holidays
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 10:47AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 11:22AM EST
Even in the age of e-cards, Skype and digital greetings, many Canadians still prefer to send Christmas cards the old-fashioned way, through the mail, which is why the holidays tend to be the most hectic time of the year for Canada Post.
And one of the busiest post offices in the country is in a small Cape Breton town that’s fortunate enough to have the name of Christmas Island.
Every year, thousands of holiday cards are sent to the post office to be stamped with the distinctive postmark, for which the Christmas Island post office has become famous.
Anyone can send their mail marked with proper postage to the post office inside a larger envelope. Postmistress Hughena MacKinnon -- or one of her holiday helpers -- will then open the envelopes and hand-stamp the mail inside with two festive postmarks: one red and one green.
The mail is then sent onto a regular processing plant for sorting and delivery, but are handled separately to ensure that the stamps don’t get cancelled again.
MacKinnon says this is the 18th year her small post office has taken on the big task of processing bags full of holiday cards.
“It’s just that little extra touch,” MacKinnon told CTV News. “Usually, it is about the only time of year that you contact (relatives and friends). They just want to make it that little extra special.”
During the summer, the post office receives around 100 postmark requests. During the holidays though, that number escalates.
“We hit peak times when there are over 1,000 cards a day. Usually, I have to get help in to help us keep the mail moving,” she says.
MacKinnon says it never ceases to amaze her how far the mail travels.
“We’ve had cards from all over Europe,” the postmistress says. “We’ve had cards from Asia, Korea, Australia … Tahiti even.”
On the day that CTV visited the post office, MacKinnon was sorting through a pack of cards from students in Vancouver who wanted to send Christmas greetings to their families in China.
Nova Scotia resident Norma MacLean was also there, having taken a detour on a trip from Halifax to Sydney to stop in and have two dozens of greeting cards postmarked.
“Every year, I send my cards through here, and my granddaughter is really looking forward to getting a card from Christmas Island,” MacLean said. “Friends in the States -- and we have a few stamp-collector friends -- they like to see the postmark.”
Those interested in having cards postmarked at Christmas Island should address the envelopes and add the correct postage, then insert the cards into a larger envelope and send it to:
Christmas Island Post Office
8499 Grand Narrows Hwy
Christmas Island NS B1T 1A0
With files from CTV Atlantic's Randy MacDonald