The Sled Dog Mail Run, an annual Cariboo event, will celebrate its 20th anniversary January 20-22, 2012. Sledders sworn in as Canada Post mail carriers will carry close to 3,000 Mail Run envelopes by dog sled over the Gold Rush Trail, a former sled dog mail route. The Mail Run envelopes, which include a picture of a musher and dog team by a local artist, will be stamped at points along the trail and then delivered to 20 countries worldwide. Many envelopes will also carry a new Canada Post dog sled stamp issued in May 2011 to commemorate the history of the delivery of mail by dog team throughout Canada.
We’ve all heard about the “Pony Express” in the United States, but how many Canadians know that the arrival of a sled dog “packet” or a “batard”, a narrow 22 foot-long canoe paddled by six skilled Voyageurs, signaled “news” in Canada. For isolated, lonely people in those early days, the arrival of mail was a huge event despite the fact that the news received was often already 12 months old.
The Stage Race on the Gold Rush Trail is a new addition to the 2012 Dogsled Mail Run. Mushers from all over will challenge themselves and their dogs in this event. Winners will take home real Cariboo gold bullion. Warren Palfrey, a local sled dog outfitter, is the race marshall. His great grandfather, Sam Hourie, delivered mail by dogsled during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Jeffery Dinsdale, a Sled Dog Mail Run volunteer, sled dog owner and local historian told me he and other volunteers gather all the envelopes for each Dogsled Mail Run. Each is hand-cancelled with three different cancellation stamps, then packaged for the three-day trip over the Gold Rush Trail route and collected for entry into the regular mail system at Barkerville, a famous Gold Rush town. Five envelopes traveling by dog sled at the 2012 Sled Dog Mail Run will be ours. One is addressed to us. Four other envelopes will be sent to family members. Each carries the new Canada Post dogsled stamp. If you want to send a letter by dogsled, log on to http://www.dogsledmailrun.ca/ to find out how. Dog sled stamps are available from Canada Post.
Next week, we head to Canada’s east coast for another great mail story. Stay tuned.