A long-running area tradition honouring the early years of Canada’s Postal Service will take to the trails again this year.
The 38th Annual Seguin Sled Dog Mail Run is taking off on February 25th. Unlike previous years, Seguin officials say this year’s run will not take place on the Family Day long weekend.
Dominique O’Brien, Seguin Township’s Director of Community Services says the organizing team is excited to return to a full-day event with lots of activities, food, and of course the amazing sled dog teams.
O’Brien says the event was started in 1985 by Elsie Chadwick who was at the time a member of the Siberian Husky Club of Canada and a Humphrey area cottager.
She says Chadwick wanted to share her love of the breed with the community but she didn’t want to start a competitive race. So, O’Brien says Chadwick thought it would be fun to pay tribute to the work of Siberian Huskies in the early days of the Postal Service which was delivering mail in the winter.
“So what we call ‘sledvelopes’ were designed and now play a key role in the mail run tradition. So sledvelopes are envelopes that contain a letter that explains the journey and introduces the featured musher for that year. We usually sell approximately a thousand sledvelopes and they’re sent all over the world and have become collector’s items,” she says.
She says for many years the event was organized by very dedicated volunteers from within the community and it wasn’t until 2014 that Sequin Township took the reins and helped run the event. O’Brien says the run is Invitational, so only a dozen teams are invited to participate each year, hailing from all over Ontario and the U.S.
She says there will be an opening ceremony in Humphrey where the mushers pack up their mail bags full of sledvelopes and set off through the approximately 17 km of trails all the way to Rosseau where they hand them over to the Postmaster.
It’s not a race, she says, so quite often the mushers will stop, rest and chat with other mushers or spectators along the way. O’Brien says the public is welcome to come to the Humphrey Arena at 8 a.m. where the event starts with a breakfast that’s put on by the Georgian Nordic Paddling. In addition, she says one of our mushers will be doing a demo up in the hall with one of her dogs, explaining the art of mushing and all the equipment that they use.
“Outside as the mushers prepare their equipment and tend to their dogs in the arena parking lot they are happy to chat with people and answer any questions people may have. The Huskies themselves are very excited to meet everyone and can’t wait to get on the trail, so it’s very loud,” she says.
Once the opening ceremony is done around 10 AM, the teams will leave one by one and head out to Rosseau. “Then people are encouraged to drive to Rosseau to watch the teams arrive. In Rosseau, we have free dog sled rides for the kids at the field house, and we’ll have a bonfire and hot chocolate outside the Rosseau Memorial Hall. Inside the hall, there will be a lunch provided by the Rosseau community volunteers,” she says.
O’Brien adds they’ll also have merchandise for sale this year and of course, sledvelopes if you haven’t purchased one already. She says those are for sale right now and you can get them at any of the Seguin Public Library branches, the Rosseau Post Office, Rousseau General Store, the Humphrey Arena, and the Seguin Municipal Office.
“I’ve been involved in this event for many years and it’s truly a highlight of my year,” O’Brien says. “If the weather cooperates, of course, it’s a magical day and it’s amazing to see these really happy Siberian huskies and the mushers just in their elements,” she adds.