Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. artist upset after painting sent through Canada Post is stolen

A well-known local artist is mourning the loss of a painting she mailed to Toronto through Canada Post after it went missing in transit.
Barbara Pratt says there should be a better protocol in place at Canada Post to ensure that packages like her painting don't go missing. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

A well-known local artist is mourning the loss of a postcard-size painting she mailed to Toronto through Canada Post after it went missing in transit.

Barbara Pratt's painting, a four by five inch portrait of an oil tanker, was supposed to arrive in Toronto in October, before being featured at an art exhibition in Italy.

"It would have been an honour for me to have that painting included in that exhibition," she said.

But Pratt, whose works have been sold all around the world, said the small but brightly coloured painting never arrived at its intended destination in Toronto.

She said she received a note saying the painting had been signed for, but shortly after receiving that notice, got a call from the intended receiver asking when she should expect it to arrive.

"My heart sunk: 'Oh gosh... what has gone wrong now?'" she said.

The signature belonged to a stranger with a first initial and a last name attached to it and Pratt believes that whoever signed for it stole the painting.

No positive resolution

After contacting Canada Post immediately after finding out the painting had gone missing, Pratt said they told her there was nothing they could do.

"I got a check in the mail for about $130. There was no letter attached, nothing to say we've made a mistake, sorry for your inconvenience, sorry for your loss or anything like that."

Pratt was eventually able to get an ombudsman at Canada Post to look into the matter, but she said there was still no positive resolution.

"I believe they made a sincere effort through the ombudsman to find the package," said Pratt. 

"Their findings said that too much time had elapsed, and that the mail carrier couldn't remember, obviously, and that they were sorry and they would have customer service send a letter of apology."

Painting worth over $500 

Barbara Pratt estimates that this painting, which went missing in transit, was worth between $500 and $800. (Barbara Pratt)

Pratt estimates the painting was worth anywhere between $500-800.

She thinks Canada Post should be able to do more than just say that something went wrong. 

"Mail theft is a crime, so I know it was a small thing, but other people lose bigger things in the mail," she said. 

"It shouldn't be enough for them to say, 'Sorry, it's missing.'"

Canada Post said the investigation into the missing painting is complete and there's nothing more to be done.

Pratt said she still hasn't received the written apology she's been promised.

In the meantime, she has sent another painting to the exhibition in Italy.

"When the first one didn't arrive, I decided if I'm going to participate, I'd better send another."

Having been burned before, though, Pratt said she sent the new painting through a different service. 

"I sent it by private courier," she said.

"I didn't trust Canada Post to do that twice."