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News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "mail-carriers"

The Little Mail Carriers continue their adventures around the world, and this time they've received an invitation they could not refuse... to explore Toronto’s First Post Office! They jumped at the opportunity to discover this historical institution, which is both a museum and a post office and is also regularly visited by the local postcrossers. Kat Akerfeldt is a curator at the museum and kindly offered to show the little ones around.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Hi everyone! We've just arrived here at Toronto’s First Post Office, but it seems like we came at a very busy time of year! To make us feel right at home, Kat put us to work in the Post Office, sorting mail and making sure that everything went into the correct box.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Toronto’s First Post Office is a museum, and looks just as it did in 1833. That was when the city’s first Postmaster, James Scott Howard, built the town’s first brick Post Office. At that time, everyone in Toronto collected their mail from this Post Office – there was no home delivery then. Most letters would be sorted alphabetically until the recipients called for them. Only a few people had their own P.O. box, with a window with a number painted on the glass. These were for Toronto’s early government, business, and religious leaders, for they received the most mail.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Today, Toronto’s First Post Office still runs a full-service Post Office, and offers P.O. boxes to rent to members of the Town of York Historical Society. It’s the only postal museum in Canada, and the only Post Office in Toronto to offer a pictorial cancellation mark, so they get a lot of visitors who want to send interesting happy mail — including lots of postcrossers as well! The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The museum gift shop sells a very interesting selection of vintage stamps. While perusing them, we noticed this small collection of stamps that commemorate Canada’s Confederation. In 1867, representatives from provinces in British North America agreed, after many meetings and conferences, to become a united country, the Dominion of Canada. In 2017, Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation! The history was fascinating, so we got into the library to investigate further...

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

... but soon emerged again to find out what all the noisy excitement was about. Turns out, a school group had arrived and wanted to learn to write letters as they did in the 1830s in Toronto. We learned that writing with goose quill pens isn’t always easy, and that blobs will happen! The Postmistress reminded the class to keep a light hand, keep the paper flat on the table, and keep the pen moving!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

When the letters were dried with pounce (a sand, sprinkled onto the ink, which helps to dry it quickly), the students folded their letters and sealed them with red sealing wax. In the 1830s, you had to pay postage on every piece of paper, so you didn’t waste paper or postage on an envelope! The letter becomes its own cover. Finally, the letters were stamped with a historic cancellation. In the 1830s, Postmaster Howard didn’t like the quality of black ink, so his was the only post office in the province of Upper Canada allowed to use red ink.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The date on the cancellation mark is historic in itself! It says “March 6”, which is Toronto’s birthday! March 6, 1834, was the date that Toronto became the first city in Upper Canada. Before 1834, Toronto was known as the Town of York. And before 1793, as early European settlers came to the area, this place on the shores of Lake Ontario was known as Toronto. Toronto is from the native Mohawk language, and was sometimes spelled Taranteau or Tkaronto. In 1793, Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, moved the capitol away from the American border to Toronto, renamed the settlement after the Duke of York, and started a lot of development, including creating a map of his new Town – two blocks up and five blocks across. When Simcoe first came to Toronto/York, there were 241 people living here. By 1834, when it became a city, there were 9252 people living here. It had grown very quickly, but it didn’t stop there... Today, Toronto is nearly 3 million people!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Later in our visit, we heard some very exciting news: every year, the Town of York Historical Society and Toronto’s First Post Office celebrate becoming a city with a gala celebration! This year marked the city’s 183rd birthday, and the celebration also honoured Canada’s sesquicentennial. A party was held at St. Lawrence Hall, which was built in 1851 as Toronto’s first big concert venue. During its early history, the Hall hosted debates on Canadian Confederation, was a terminus for the Underground Railroad, and the venue for three sold-out performances by Swedish superstar Jenny Lind. In 1967, the Hall was restored, and is now a National Historic Site.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

On March 6, 2017, the evening included lively music written in 1867 and 1967 (the number 1 song in Canada in 1967 was “The Letter”, which we thought was very appropriate!), rousing speeches on Toronto’s history, and a very popular auction of goods and services from local businesses! Toronto’s First Post Office and St. Lawrence Hall are very close to the St. Lawrence Market, which is full of amazing food artisans, who very kindly supplied all kinds of good things to eat. We especially enjoyed the very Canadian delicacy – and very sticky – butter tarts!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

What an evening! After all the excitement, we were ready for some relaxation back at the Post Office. We settled in the Reading Room, in front of the fireplace, with our best pens and rubber stamps, to write some letters and postcards to our favourite people. After all, how else would we enjoy a quiet moment?

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Thank you so much Kat and everyone at Toronto’s First Post Office, for taking such good care of the little ones! 😊  Where will they go next?

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Last year, the Little Mail Carriers went on a splendid adventure... that we forgot to tell you about! 🙈  We firmly believe in "better late than never" (and we know how much you all miss them!), so here they are to tell the tale of their trip to a little known archipelago in the Baltic sea...

Hi everyone! We're in Åland,  a group of islands mid-way between Finland and Sweden. It's definitely a special place, with very few postcrossers — and no wonder, as the population only amounts to 29,000 residents. They're a Swedish-speaking autonomous region of Finland though, and even have their own postage stamps since 1984, mostly featuring local nature, culture, history, society and autonomy-related themes.

Aland postcards

We had already been in Sweden and Norway, but never in Finland, which is still the country with the highest number of postcrossers per capita in the world... so a visit was well overdue!

Finland is known for many things, from their sauna culture to the Moomins, but it's also the country where, in October of 2015, a group of enthusiast postcrossers gathered in the Postal Museum in Tampere to create the first national association of postcrossers: the Finnish Postcrossing Friends (reg). Among many other activities, they've taken up the task of organising meetups in their country, so that postcrossers can get together to write postcards and explore new places — including the Åland Islands.

So it was an early Thursday morning on June 9th last year, when a group of 22 Finnish postcrossers met in Turku harbour. The cruise from Turku to Mariehamn (the capital of Åland) takes about five hours.... perfect timing for a meetup, right? So the very first "Postcrossing at sea"–meetup was arranged in a cozy conference room of the M/S Amorella.

Meeting on the ship aland1

The hours flew quickly as we wrote tons of postcards and shared Postcrossing experiences while admiring the sunny sea landscape. The association also had a challenging Postcrossing-related quiz... with prizes for everyone! The cruise ship arrived to Mariehamn in the early afternoon. After settling in at the hotel, the rest of the day was spent shopping for postcards, exploring the island and enjoying the local delicacies. June 9th is Åland's Autonomy Day, which is why there were 🇦🇽  flags everywhere we looked!

Streets of Åland alandflags IMG 6628 (1) delicacies

The next day, we got a wonderful chance to visit Åland Post postal terminal in the island. The visit was hosted by Anita Häggblom, the director of Åland Post Stamps. While enjoying coffee and doughnuts, she told us about the interesting history of stamps of Åland, and how topics are chosen to be issued. She also revealed some wonderful details about 2017 stamps.

Flags everywhere! IMG 6694

We got the chance to ask Anita some questions, and she also introduced us to their facilities, so that we could see where all the postal magic happens and how it happens. It was truly interesting to see the machines for first day covers, maximum cards and special cancellations. We thanked Anita and Åland Post by leaving a couple of hundred signed meetup postcards there, so that they could get nicely cancelled and sent forward around to the world to other postcrossers. In the afternoon we took the cruise back to mainland on another boat, this time the M/S Viking Grace.

alandgroup

The visit was a huge success... so they're planning to do it again this year! So if you've always wanted to explore these special islands, mark your calendars: June 7th to 9th is when the Finnish Postcrossing Friends will arrange a new visit to Åland. This time, the trip will include an extra day to fit a bus trip to Eckerö Mail and Custom’s House, Kastelholm Castle and Stallhagen brewery.

Aaaaaaaand, as if that wasn't enough, Åland Post Stamps is planning to issue a special cancellation for the new meetup, together with a custom stamp. Stamp, cancellation and meetup card were designed by local artist Ammi Krogius.

alandmeetup2017 mockup

Pretty cool, right? So... who's looking forward to June? 😊

A big thank you to Marko (aka insp3ktor) and Hanna (aka hazzitus) from the Finnish Postcrossing Association for organising this meetup, and to also to Martta (aka MarttaD) and Minna (piparminttu) for sharing their lovely photos. Great work, everyone!

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The Little Mail Carriers have been a bit quieter lately, but not for lack of adventures. Earlier this year, they hopped on their airmail envelope and landed in exciting Uppsala, for a winter break. There was much to discover and see, as they found out!

Greetings from Sweden! Uppsala is the 4th biggest city in the country, with a little more than 200,000 inhabitants. We arrived in late February, and stayed with Karin (aka karinoswald) and her family for a while, in an apartment on the fifth floor with a great view from the balcony!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

We were greeted with the first-months-of-the-year speciality, a "semla". The classical semla consists of a wheat bun with a core made of special marzipan and whipped cream. This is a blueberry semla with blueberry cream, which conservatives don't consider as a real semla. And don't ever try to give one to a Swede after April... it's just unheard of!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Close to our temporary home, there is a wonderful nature area where we went for a walk...

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

... and caught a ride with some Viking friends! 8-year old postcrosser Tore (aka ToreRoland) helped us on board.

In this area, there is an old cottage with foundations from the late 1600s. It's called a soldier's cottage (or Torp), because the house was a part of the payment to a soldier who lived there in times of peace, and the family took care of the place in times of war.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Sweden hasn't been in war for over 200 years, but we still have a military system and the last soldier who lived in this cottage moved out just about 60 years ago. It's now owned by a community that takes care of the house, keeping it and the land around it in shape.

To help raise money to take care of the Torp, there's a coffee sale eight times a year. This day, they were making waffles, and of course we wanted to help... and eat a few! :)

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Our host Karin works as a nurse assistant at the Children's Hospital, which is a part of the big Akademiska Sjukhuset (the University teaching hospital), where over 8,000 people work! We were curious to see how things work in Swedish hospitals, so we made a field trip to check it out.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Everyone who works in a caregiving position wears the same clothes — the doctors, the nurses, the nurse assistants, the dietitians, the physiotherapists, and so on. To distinguish them, they have different colours of the badge, stating their occupation. The nurses have a blue sign that says "sjuksköterska", which means nurse. And to make things a little more fun for the children, they use a lot of colours on the accessories!

We visited some children who were staying at the hospital, and they were very pleased to see us... I guess that's the advantage of being a toy! :) There are machines everywhere, and they can look a bit scary, but Karin explained that they're there to help everyone cough or breathe, so they're essential to the children's wellbeing.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

We even got to try some emergency manoeuvres! I fear we're not quite strong enough for the task though...

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Lots of postcrossers bring their postcards to the workplace, and Karin does too — she hangs them in her changing room and locker!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

The hospital even has its own internal mail central, which we visited and even helped a little with the mail sorting. As a reward, we got to drive their cool mail bikes!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

On March 19th, one of the highlights of our visit to Sweden occurred: we were invited to a Postcard Collector Fair, and to a Swedish Postcrossing meetup!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

The fair organisers had prepared a table for us, and our host placed a looooot of stamps and postcards on it, to make the visitors curious.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Some people came to talk to us and liked the idea, but most of them only liked really old postcards that they wanted to keep, not send... Still, it was great fun to visit the fair and buy some cards!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

After the fair, we went to a nearby café and wrote about 150 postcards to people all over the world, both direct swaps and official Postcrossing cards. One of the guests is number 2 in Sweden, and she had printed out 61 addresses... And at the café, some people got very curious and asked us what we were doing. They thought it was a wonderful idea, so maybe we managed to get some more Swedish postcrossers!

Posting the cards 36

A few days later, we got the chance to tour the city, and see the sights. Our first stop? The Hågadal school, where a group of students exchanges postcards with the help of their teachers! They're class 3a (aka hagadala) — look at all the postcards they've received so far!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Great job, guys!

After hanging out with the kids, we continued our city tour. Not far from the hospital, the 16th century castle lies with a great view over the town.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

From there, we went to see the university library Carolina Rediviva, host of the very famous Silver Bible, also known as Codex Argenteus. Close to it is the University Hall, from the late 1800, which has some rune stones in its garden. They tell us about brave Vikings who did NOT have horns on their helmets, we've been told. That is just a modern gimmick.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Construction of the Uppsala Cathedral started in 1272 and took several centuries to complete. The towers are over 118m tall, and it's the biggest church in the Nordic countries. Some famous kings and queens are buried here, and there's a museum inside one of the towers.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

All these historical buildings are within walking distance from each other, but we still needed a little rest on a bridge over the Fyris river, and then we wanted to play in the mini version of the cathedral! There is a botanical garden in Uppsala as well, since the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus lived and worked here, but in March (at the end of winter), it's more like fifty shades of brown... so we didn't go there.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

We met our host's local mailman though and got to ride on his car — isn't it the coolest?! It was the perfect send-off to our stay in Uppsala!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Thank you Karin, we've had a great time discovering your city!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Where do you think we will go next?

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It's been a while since we've had a giveaway on the blog... so when our friend Addis (aka sumares) found this cute stamp-themed puzzle and offered to send it to a lucky postcrosser, we immediately jumped at the offer! Little Paulo showcases it below:

Wonders of America giveaway

Isn't it cute? It's a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, featuring the "Wonders of America: Land of Superlatives" commemorative stamps! Here's an introductory video highlighting the concept and artwork of the stamps, which were released almost ten years ago, in May 2006.

Wonders of America giveaway

Stamps and puzzles and mailboxes... so many our favourite things put together in this charming package! Little Ana is ready to write a name on the mailbox...

Wonders of America giveaway

If you'd like a chance to win it, all you need to do is leave a comment below. Oh, and if you have seen or played with other fun toys that promote postcard collecting or letter writing, do share!

Don't forget to check back on this post around this time next week, to know whether your name was picked by Paulo's random number generator. And a huuuuge thank you to Addis, who generously sponsored this giveaway!

And the winner of this puzzle, as chosen by Paulo's random number generator is... havarah! Congratulations! :)

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Remember the Little Mail Carrier's cousin? It's been a while since he was last on the blog... Earlier this year, he threw a huge tantrum and demanded to be sent on new adventures — so we sent him off to Romania, where an exciting meeting was about to take place! Here's their report, as told by the participants in this unique meeting.

Once upon a very special day, on February 29th of 2016, the Romanian Postcrossing Community organized the first Postcrossing train meetup in the world, a round-trip journey between Bucharest and Ploiești. The day started with the arrival of the Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. As every tourist would have done, he first went on a sightseeing tour through the wonders of Bucharest.

Naturally, he took some selfies and because he is so small, a special "magnifier tool" was used to be sure everything is in focus!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

He started with the Palace of the Parliament which is the heaviest building in the world. It is also the second largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon in the USA) housing the Romanian Senate and Parliament and the National Museum of Contemporary Art.

He continued his tour to two of the most prestigious buildings in Bucharest: the House of Economies (CEC) and the National Museum of Music (Cantacuzino Palace).

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

In front of the Romanian Athenaeum he got really excited, because inside is the longest circular fresco in the world! It was done by Costin Petrescu, and is a stunning piece depicting 25 different scenes of Romanian history over 70 meters of canvas... wow!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

The final stop before the meetup was at the Revolution Square, admiring the National Museum of Art (The Royal Palace), the statue of King Carol I of Romania (1866-1914) and the Central University Library.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Finally he arrived at Gara de Nord (train station). The little couriers' cousin met with members of the Romanian Postcrossing Community and quickly jumped on the train to grab some seats.

We had lots of fun activities during our trip from Bucharest to Ploiești (60 km), such as: signing postcards, organizing lotteries, tasting cupcakes and of course taking photos with our small guest, who even received a nickname for the day: Max!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

With this special occasion, we printed a limited edition meetup postcard, showing the Royal train of Romania (Photo by Mihai Raitaru). Everybody signed it — even the train inspectors, who were quite impressed by it!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Once arrived in Ploiești, we gathered for a nice group photo and went on sightseeing, having a few hours available before the train back to Bucharest.


The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

We first visited the Clocks Museum - the biggest clocks collection in South-Eastern Europe.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

The Art Museum was next on our list, where we took more photos and signed some more postcards in the lobby. Max got a special surprise from one of our colleagues, who played the piano for him.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Before heading back, one last stop was made at the Postal Office to send our "train traveling meetup" postcards to fellow Postcrossers around the world and to say goodbye to little Max, who continued his journey back to Portugal. At the end of this full and fun day we all went back to our homes with many wonderful memories.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

We also found out that this was the first train traveling meetup in the world and all this was possible because Postcrossing exists! Thank you Postcrossing team for bringing us together, thank you for building bridges among people and nations! Happy Postcrossing, everyone!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Train meetup participants (who came from a bit all over Romania):
Anca, bardamu1964, cristinaS, corneljipa, dienuca, DrAmpie, eumihai2003, lamelemon, MaraMilu, MihneaR, modranhoria, mpalade, Nazareanu, NoarVladimir, Schumi99, spiderpc and susanica.

Concept: Mihnea (MihneaR)

Organizers: Mihnea (MihneaR), George (Nazareanu), Eugen (eumihai2003)

Photos: Eugen (eumihai2003) and George (Nazareanu)
 — you can see lots more here!
Article: George (Nazareanu) with the help of Beatrice ( boopilina), Diana (dienuca), Anca (Annajo) and Mihnea (MihneaR)

Thank you guys, that was brilliant! And what do you think... it's time the Little Mail Carriers' cousin had a name — should we stick to "Postman Max"? :)

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