A Guide to Carcross, Yukon
Please note: as of May 2011, the post office is no longer allowed to stamp passports as described in this article.
With regular train service now restored (May 2007) and major government and private construction work going on downtown, the visibility of Carcross is rapidly increasing. One of the landmarks that's seeing a huge increase in visitors due to both that visibility and to the
efforts of the staff is the historic post office seen to the right (click on the photo to enlarge it).
This post office is not only a focal point for locals to meet each other year round, it also appears to be historically significant in a national context. This
building was constructed in 1905 to house the post office, and has operated continuously ever since, with only minor modifications to the original structure. Although there are
many post office buildings in Canada that date back to the 1800s, the next oldest that has operated continuously as a post office appears to be the one in
Battleford, Saskatchewan which was built in 1911.
The first initiative by the post office staff that really started getting fairly large numbers of visitors coming in (far more than would normally go into a
tiny post office) was stamping people's passports with one of Carcross's five very cool postmarks (seen at the bottom of this page). You can also (but don't have to) buy a
postage stamp to increase the postmark's interest as seen to the right. While I chose the $2 polar bear, the extra-large
and $8 grizzly bear are also very popular according to staff members, and Canada Post issues many very colourful lower-value stamps every year.
The success of the passport stamping has led to an increase in the variety of items other than postage products available, from toy postal trucks to commemmorative coins, and Carcross is also now the only post office in Canada that is open seven days a week during the summer (mid-May though mid-September).
Visitors to the post office may also discover that the women working there are having far more fun than the people working at their post office back home.
With this year (2007) being The Year of the Pig in traditional Chinese culture, you can get a picture taken of yourself wearing a pig nose, which will then be posted on the wall above the mailboxes!
If you're one of the many travellers who enjoy collecting passports stamps, there are other stamps available when entering Alaska at Skagway and Poker Creek.
If you'd like to see more of Carcross' history, you can download a pdf copy of the Historic Buildings Walking Tour, or pick one up at the Visitor Reception Centre.