Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Canadian Postal Strike of 1968

[This is the first in a series of articles dealing with postal strikes in Canada. The second article dealing with strikes in the 1971 to 1984 period can be found here. The third post dealing with the 1997 strike can be found here.]

Relations between the Canadian government and postal unions were rocky during the Centennial period. In 1968, Canada's postal workers went on a 22 day postal strike from July 18 to August 9.

The following responses to the 1968 strike are considered in this article:

1. Embargo of U.S. mail to Canada
2. Department of National Defence Emergency Canadian mail delivery
3. Private courier service

1. Embargo of U.S. mail to Canada

Canada requested that the U.S. suspend all mail services to Canada during the strike. Mail to Canada was returned to senders by U.S post offices with instructional markings and labels which were created by individual post offices on an ad hoc basis. The covers below illustrate some messages found on embargoed mail.

a) Hawthorne, California

Hawthorne, Calif., to Don Mills, July 29, 1968

A perforated gummed label was affixed to the cover with this message:


b) St. Cloud, Minnesota

St. Cloud, Minn., to Victoria, July 29, 1968

The St. Cloud Post Office applied its standard "RETURNED FOR POSTAGE" handstamp and struck out the word "POSTAGE" with a pen and wrote the word "Embargo". The letter was returned to sender and remailed on August 31, 1968. An additional 6c stamp was affixed.

Embargo marking : Modified "Returned For Postage" handstamp

Letter remailed on August 31, 1968

c) Monterey, California

Monterey, Calif., to Victoria, August 8, 1968
The message was stapled to the cover:

d) Portland, Oregon

Portland, Or., to Victoria, July 28, 1968

The Portland post office printed its message on white paper which was taped to the front of the envelope:

The Portland post office explains the Canada has requested the embargo.

e) Des Plaines, Illinois

Des Plains, Ill., to Victoria, August 3, 1968

The Des Plains post office applied the following locally produced handstamp:


Handstamp was scratched out with a red pencil when letter was remailed

The covers shown above are just a few of the many local instructional markings produced by U.S. post offices during the 1968 Canadian postal strike.

2. Department of National Defence Emergency Canadian mail delivery

The Department of National Defence established an emergency mail delivery system which allowed correspondence to be sent throughout the military without interruption.

D.N.D. handstamp

The above cover was sent via the D.N.D. emergency mail delivery system from D.N.D. headquarters in Ottawa to CFB Rockcliffe, Ottawa, July 22, 1968.

3. Private courier service

a) Juan de Fuca Depatch Carrier Service
The Juan de Fuca Despatch Carrier Service operated between Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington.

Labels without value were printed for the 1968 postal strike

The letter below addressed to Minneapolis was conveyed from Victoria to Port Angeles, Wash., via Juan de Fuca Despatch on July18, 1968. The letter entered the U.S. mail stream at Post Angeles on July 18, 1968.

b) Stern Parcel Service

Stern Parcel Service operated between Vancouver and Bellington, Wahington.

Label with 25 cent face value
The letter below addressed to Seattle was conveyed from Vancouver to Bellingham, Wash., via Stern Parcel Service on August 6, 1968. The letter entered the U.S. mail stream at Bellingham on August 7, 1968.

Bellingham, Wash., August 8 1968

c) Canadian Importers Association, Inc.

The Canadian Importers Association provided international mail service to its members during the 1968 postal strike. The Association transported correspondence from Canada to Buffalo, N.Y., and mailed it in Buffalo for U.S. and other international destinations. Members received international correspondence c/o the Canadian Importers Association, P.O. Box 745, Buffalo, N.Y.

The air mail letter to below was sent by Makin & Ridgway (Canada) Limited, Toronto via the Canadian Importers Association courier service to Stoke-on-Trent, England. The letter entered the U.S. mail stream at Buffalo, N.Y., on August 6 1968.

Canadian Importers Association Inc. Postal Strike handstamp applied to mail transported for its members to Buffalo.