Canada Post’s only delivery via dog sled will be happening in 2021, but organizers aren’t sure exactly what form the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run will take.
Ric Raynor, who is helping organize the run, said if the event were scheduled for December, it wouldn’t be allowed under public health orders.
With those orders set to expire on Jan. 8, organizers will meet on Jan. 13 to determine what their next steps will be.
“We will either decide to delay the mail run until later on in the spring, or whether we can carry the mail with one dog team, and not have ‘an event,’” Raynor said. “In the meantime, we’re still selling the envelopes. The mail will get through.”
Potential solutions include having only one team, or only allowing teams who are based in the Northern Health region if travel is still restricted.
“It will be delivered by dog team; it’s just how it’s going to be delivered by dog team — that’s up in the air right now,” Raynor said.
Mushers are sworn in as official Canada Post mail carriers, and they deliver the mail from Quesnel to Barkerville. Special envelopes are printed and collected by volunteers and delivered to the Barkerville Post Office. From there, they are delivered by Canada Post to anywhere in the world.
“We have to deliver the mail to the Barkerville Post Office, that’s our terminus,” said Raynor. “Because they have restrictions, we have not posted the schedule of events on our website. This year, there will be no spectators for the mail run itself, and that will probably carry on until the spring.”
The artwork for this year’s envelopes was drawn by Sonja Maas, a German student who spent last winter in the Cariboo on a ranch where sled dogs are trained.
Raynor added the annual auction associated with the mail run will continue in 2021, but instead of an in-person event, it will be held online through the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run’s Facebook page.
Normally, the dogs would be accompanied by cross country skiers, snowshoers and others along the groomed trails, but those activities are unlikely to be encouraged with COVID-19 restrictions.
Envelopes are available for purchase at stores throughout Quesnel, including Eldorado Recreation, Total Pet, Bosleys, Four Rivers Co-op, Shoppers Drug Mart, the Quesnel Post Office on Reid Street, BNC Mercantile in Wells and the Jack O Clubs General Store and Post Office in Wells. A full list of stores will be available online soon at sleddogmailrun.ca.
This year’s mail run will be the 29th.
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