London

Letter delivered to Goderich, Ont., newsroom, 86 years late

The mysterious letter arrived at the Goderich Signal Star newsroom with a three-cent stamp on the envelope and a sticky note attached, reading "Sorry for late postal delivery."

"Sorry for late postal delivery" reads a sticky note attached to the envelope

The letter appears to have been mailed in May of 1934 and arrived in the Signal-Star mailbox 86 years later, in October 2020. (Submitted by Kathleen Smith)

Staff at the Goderich Signal Star in Huron County, Ont., knew they had a mystery on their hands when the letter arrived in their office mail slot. The postmark is dated May 26, 1934. The postage stamp cost three cents. A sticky note attached to the envelope reads, "Sorry for the late postal delivery"

"We honestly don't know where it got lost in time," said Kathleen Smith, editor of the newspaper.

Inside, she found a hand-written letter penned by Miss Margaret Elliott inquiring about a salesgirl position advertised in the Signal, a newspaper that operated in the town until 1937. Her experience included the Metropolitan Store in London and working the Christmas rush at the People's Store in Goderich.

"I was immediately intrigued," said Smith, who added the envelope was sealed when it arrived.

"I would not be shocked by any answer right now, with how this year has gone," said Kathleen Smith, editor of Goderich Signal-Star. (Submitted by Kathleen Smith )

She contacted the Huron County Museum to inquire about Miss Elliott who, according to the letter, had "two years High School training"(sic) in 1934 and listed the local high school principal as a reference. 

 

"I'm holding this young girl's letter. Did she get married? Did she have kids? Did she get the job?"

Of course, Smith also wondered how it arrived at their office, 86 years late. Anyone can drop a letter in their mail slot, so staff wonder if someone found a long-lost letter and left it there.

Canada Post says it's a "unique story," did not deliver letter

A spokesperson for Canada Post told CBC that the mail carrier on the route did not deliver the letter or write the note. It's unlikely a piece of mail could get trapped in their system since staff do regular searches of the equipment, said Valérie Chartrand in a written statement.

She added that any mail delayed in this manner would be accompanied by a customer service letter from Canada Post.

"So sorry we can't provide any insight, but it certainly is a unique story," Chartrand added.

The hand-written employment inquiry is dated May 25, 1934. (Submitted by Kathleen Smith)

"I would not be shocked by any answer," says Smith

Smith hasn't ruled out any possibilities.

"Everything about it seemed old — the writing style, the words used, the ink," said Smith, who wonders if a hiring manager took it home in a stack of papers and discovered it decades later.

"We don't have any leads, 'My grandfather had it in a sock drawer' or whatever," she said.

The newspaper's advertising department is currently looking to fill a sales job, but Smith thinks it's unlikely the letter was written and dropped off as a prank. "I honestly don't know why someone would do that," she said.

There's also the handwritten Post-it apologizing for the late delivery.

"Whoever wrote that sticky note, I read it as humorous," said Smith. "It's not just a week late, it's almost a century late."

"I would not be shocked by any answer right now, with how this year has gone."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allison Devereaux is radio producer and host in London, Ont. She's been with CBC News for a decade, reporting from Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Winnipeg and Halifax. allison.devereaux@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now