Rain, sleet, hail delay posties’ ‘appointed rounds’

By Ian Robertson

The old boast – at least south of the border – that rough weather will not prevent mail from being delivered was no doubt recalled in southern Ontario and British Columbia when service was disrupted in February.

Accumulations of snow, hail and freezing rain followed by mild-temperature showers played havoc with streets, highways and freeways in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on Feb. 6 and Feb. 12.

In British Columbia, a snowstorm across the lower mainland as well as on Vancouver Island affected mail delivery there and in the Greater Vancouver Area on Feb. 11.

While municipal road crews did their best to clear streets and spread salt, many sidewalks remained too slippery for mail carriers to risk life and limb.

A yellow service alert was issued in British Columbia, meaning some customers – particularly those in harder-to-reach regions – might not get mail or parcels under road surfaces deemed to be impassable.

“Delivery will resume once it’s safe to do so,” Canada Post promised on notices posted in both Ontario and British Columbia.


Public transit service in Toronto and Metro Vancouver were affected, many school bus services were suspended, some schools were also closed and many public services, including libraries, museums and child daycare centres, also shut down early.

British Columbia Ferry Services suspended evening service due to the storm on Feb. 11, and many flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport were cancelled or delayed.

Weather forecasters warned of ice pellets and freezing drizzle expected to hit southern Ontario over two days during each storm week.

In a statement after the first GTA mail delivery suspension, Canada Post announced its rare decision “as the weather conditions have made it unsafe.”

On Feb. 12, it announced a second mail service suspension starting after 2 p.m.

The agency said 100 employees had fallen and been injured during the first two weeks of 2019.

The Toronto Star on Feb. 13 quoted Canada Post saying there were more delivery disruptions in the GTA this year than in 2018, “pointing to four service alerts in the past two weeks, compared with only one such alert by this time last winter.”

The post office also requested residents and shopkeepers clear and use salt on their walkways and outdoor stairs.

“It takes a few minutes but can help avoid a serious and potentially long-term injury that can happen in seconds,” Canada Post’s statement noted.

Updates about delivery status are regularly posted on the Crown corporation’s website and Twitter account.

For the record, the following oft-quoted motto attributed to the United States Postal Service is, in fact, an unofficial slogan: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

A Harvard University scholar and author adapted ancient Greek writings by historian Herodotus (484-425 BC), which describe a mounted postal carrier service in Persia 2,100 years ago.

The translation by professor George Herbert Palmer (1842-1933) is carved on the outside of a 1912 post office building in New York city.

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