'All good things have to end': Postmaster retires after 60 years

When Myrtle Flett started working as a postmaster, Louis St. Laurent was prime minister, Elvis Presley was topping the music charts and it cost 2 cents to mail a Christmas card.

Myrtle Flett started working at Winnipegosis post office in 1956

Myrtle Flett is retiring after working at the Winnipegosis post office for more than 60 years. (courtesy Sharon Clarkson)

When Myrtle Flett started working as a postmaster, Louis St. Laurent was prime minister, Elvis Presley was topping the music charts and it cost 2 cents to mail a Christmas card.

Flett was 18 years old when she was hired in 1956 at Royal Mail Canada, which would later become Canada Post.

Over her more than 60 years working at the Winnipegosis, Man., post office, she's watched an industry change dramatically  — from the 1950s when letters, parcels and postcards were sorted by hand to the introduction of postal codes, to now, when letters can be sent with the click of a button.

"It's hard to believe that it's come to an end," said Flett, 78, on Tuesday, her last day of work.

"It's the end of an era ...I know all good things have to end."

Lost for words

Flett looks at her last day with mixed feelings. She said finding the right words to describe the experience isn't easy. 

Spending six decades manning her town's post office meant she's always had a strong connection to her community.

Over the years, she personally met nearly every person who moved to Winnipegosis because all newcomers set up a mailbox.

When customers pop in to buy stamps or send a parcel, there was often time for a little socializing and Flett kept up with the local scuttlebutt.

"You have your ups and downs in every job, but basically the people from Winnipegosis have just been great," she said.

And Flett has returned the favour over the years, going an extra mile for customers, including the families of those who have lost relatives.

Flett said her last day at Canada Post leaves her with mixed emotions. (courtesy Sharon Clarkson)

It isn't uncommon for mail to come in for residents who have died and Flett said she would always get in touch with next of kin instead of mailing letters back to the sender.

"I would find out who was looking after the mail and if they hadn't filed a change of address I would stick it in another envelope, put the postage on it and send it on its way."

One of the biggest changes to her job, Flett said, was when Canada Post introduced computers.  

"When they brought that in, I didn't know the first thing about it. Didn't have a clue," Flett said, including how to turn it on.

"But I learned," Flett said with a chuckle. "It was either learn it or leave and I wasn't letting that dictate my retirement."

A long goodbye

Cake and coffee were served in the morning at the post office and Winnipegosis residents stopped by all day Tuesday to say goodbye and thank Flett for her service.

"It's overwhelming," she said.

"I've never liked to be the centre of attention for anything and this is very overwhelming."

While she doesn't love the attention, Flett said she's been touched by all the appreciation people have showed her.

In retirement, Flett said she's planning on more visits to see her three children and six grandchildren, who all live away.

with files from Radio Noon