The fur will fly through the snow, the snow will fly through the fur, and the spirit of the gold rush will howl in the crisp air. For three days, this week, time will melt away and mail carriers will ply the snow, mushing their letters from Quesnel to Barkerville the old fashioned winter way. It is time for the annual – and unique to the Cariboo – Gold Rush Trail Dog Sled Mail Run.
“The Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run is living history for the past 31 years,” said a statement from organizers. “Our dedicated mushers and their dog teams will again be sworn in as official mail carriers and will carry Canada Post mail in their dog sleds over the Gold Rush Trail to Barkerville.”
Please support this special year by purchasing unique Mail Run envelopes that are sold at local outlets, stamped “Carried by Dog Team” and hand cancelled by volunteers in Quesnel, Wells and Barkerville, the three post offices along the route. “Once delivered to Barkerville, this mail enters the regular mail system for delivery anywhere in the world,” said event officials.
The envelopes are $3 each or five for $12. The price includes a full-colour insert explaining the history of the Mail Run. Sending a letter in that would be a souvenier wrapped in a keepsake, authentically hauled through forest and snowdrifts, mountains and valleys, on its way from the Cariboo to whomever you address it.
Purchase and post envelopes at the following locations:
Total Pet – Quesnel
Bosleys – Quesnel
Four Rivers Co-Op – Quesnel
Shoppers Drug Mart – Quesnel
Canada Post downtown – Quesnel
Rocky’s – Bouchie Lake
BNC Mercantile – Wells
Jack O’ Clubs – Wells
Books & Co. – Prince George
“It’s convenient,” said organizers. “Purchase your envelope, enclose a personal note if you wish, address the envelope to anywhere in the world, put on the proper Canada Post postage, place your envelope in the special Dog Sled mail box at one of our outlets,” then – mush! – in specatcular fashion, “the envelopes will be carried by dog team from Quesnel to Wells and on to Barkerville and hand cancelled in each location. Envelopes will then enter the regular mail system for delivery to your family, friends, clients and others.”
Best of all, you can watch it all happen. The kickoff is Friday, Feb. 24 when the mushers head for the hills at 1 p.m. from the 600 Road across from Cottonwood House on the Barkerville Highway for a three-hour loop over 24 kilometres.
Everyone celebrates the launch that night at Troll Ski Resort for a banquet and auction starting at 6 p.m.
On Feb. 25, the second leg of the journey gets barking at 11 a.m. from the Jack O’ Clubs in Wells where the dogs and mushers start and end their day’s loop. There will be musher sports at 3 p.m. for further entertainment, followed by an informal social for mushers and volunteers.
On Feb. 26, at 10 a.m., it’s time for The Dash. This long sprint into Barkerville starts at the Jack O’ Clubs and by 11:15, you can expect them to whip through the streets of historic Barkerville heading for the Main Street Post Office, right next door to the Goldfields Bakery which will be open. It all winds up with awards at 12:30 back at the Jack O’ Clubs.