Left, Brenda Ferguson cheerily delivered mail in Vermilion with jingle bells on December 22. Photo Angela Mouly
Right, A modified vehicle that Brenda Ferguson's Grandfather used to overcome drifting snow in Alberta for early postal deliveries. Photo submitted
Jingle Bells filled the air as the last few Christmas letters were delivered on December 22.
In an attempt to spread Christmas cheer, Brenda Ferguson, Rural & Suburban Mail Carrier (RSMC) for Canada Post, continued her tradition of wearing a special set of jingle bells as she travelled along her Canada Post route on the last delivery date before Christmas.
Ferguson has been delivering in Vermilion for the past 19 years, but noted that Diana Smith has been an RSMC since the introduction of community mailboxes over 20 years ago.
Ferguson said that her first job was in the mail room of the Alberta Treasury Branch’s Head Office in Edmonton. Ferguson’s father, Ernest Bird, who was the branch manager in Vermilion at the time, was unaware that she had applied. According to Ferguson, the head office took a chance on her based on her father’s reputation, and liking her work ethic, later created an accounting position for her.
Ferguson went on to say that the amount of parcels has doubled this year, and that in 2016 they had doubled from 2015, with many now going directly to the door like other courier companies do. Subsequently, the staff is growing tired, and looking forward to resting over the holidays.
“We are a dedicated bunch and we all really enjoy delivering Christmas every year in spite of the fatigue,” said Ferguson.
With a light snow, Ferguson was reminded that the weather can also create obstacles for those delivering mail.
“The weather is challenging, but after 19 years, you have a lot of tricks up your sleeve. At least I have a vehicle to warm up in; we’ve got it pretty easy when you think back,” said Ferguson whose ancestors were also involved in the postal industry.
According to www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca, Canada Post originated in 1851, which was 16 years before confederation. According to en.wikipedia.org, Canada Post delivers mail to a larger area than any other nation, and in 2016 provided service to more than 16 million addresses. In 2016, they delivered nearly 8.4 billion items, most of which were parcels due to the popularity of online shopping.
Ferguson estimates that around the 1930’s, her great-aunt Millie was a Post Mistress at her home in Florann, Alberta which was uncommon for a woman. Her Great-grandfather Cooper ran the Post Office in Faith, Alberta, and her Great-grandfather Bird ran a post office out of a general store that was also on the prairies. Ferguson noted that in the early days, many deliveries would have been made by horse, and that with her family members involved around the 1930’s, an appreciation of horses has also been passed on through her family.
“My grandfather also delivered mail and feeling it was hard on the horses, had his Ford modified in an attempt to navigate the drifts and heavy snow from Westward Ho, Alberta to Mound, Alberta. The vehicle also got bogged down a lot, so it was back to horse and sleigh,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson’s daughter Morgan is also carrying on the family tradition by working as an RSMC in Vermilion. Whether the jingle bells were on a traditional sleigh harness, or on a dedicated RSMC’s wrist, the jingly sound and joy could be heard and felt around Vermilion throughout the day.
“Bar none, bell day is my favourite delivery day of the year,” said Ferguson.