Jeff Green | Apr 28, 2021

Over the past 14 months, one of the few social occasions, for many housebound Inverary residents, has been a trip to the post office to pick up supplies and see the masked, but still smiling, face of Julie Colgrave, who has been the postmaster in Inverary since 2011.

At the end of this week, Julie is retiring from the post office.

“It's my time,” she said, “my husband James is retired, and we hope to be able to do some traveling this summer, depending on what happens with COVID of course. We have a fifth wheeler so we can get away easily. We have been planning to go on a retirement cruise, but that will have to wait for a while.”

Julie started her postal career in 1999, as a part-timer in Inverary.

A lot has changed since then, including the closing of the nearby Battersea and Glenburnie Post offices. The Battersea mail is handled out of Inverary, as was Glenburnie for a time, before it was shifted to Elginburg. The Inverary post office, which moved to a new location in 2017, serves almost 3,000 households, making it the largest postal exchange in Frontenac County.

In 2005, Julie applied for the postmaster job in Verona when it became available, and she has been full time with Canada Post since then. She worked for the next 6 years in Verona.

When the Inverary job came open in 2011, she transferred over and has been able to walk to work each day ever since, as she lives in the village.

“I can see the post office from my home.”

In 2011, she took over a facility that was nothing like the one that she is running now, as the post office was located in the former Inverary Convenience Store, at the corner of Perth Road and Latimer.

“It was pretty cramped, and it would have been impossible to deal with the parcel traffic that has been building over the years and has exploded with COVID,” she said, “we are really lucky to have moved to the new post office in 2017.

It was quite an involved process to organise the move at the time.

“Canada Post sent trucks and a crew to help make it happen,” she recalls. “Once the drivers were off with the mail in the morning, we started moving stuff over. I think we closed early that day to move the cash register, and all of the computers, over to the new space. The next morning we were open.

Not only does the new post office have 2 washrooms, it also has a large warehouse space, which has been regularly filling up as the number of parcels, being delivered by Canada Post, has skyrocketed.

“I know it has been difficult to find space in Verona and Sydenham, for all the parcels, and I feel lucky that we have all this space, she said.

One of the biggest changes she has seen in her years, as a rural postmaster with Canada Post, has been getting corporate vehicles for the rural route drivers.

“That has made a big difference. Until then they had to keep and maintain their own vehicles and that was a big challenge for them because they had no backup if they broke down, and the roads aren't always ideal on rural routes.”

Managing people and rural route drivers, keeping corporate vehicles on the road, looking after the employees, filling in for vacations, keeping up with training and customer service, are all major parts of the postmaster role. Being a manager as well as the face of the local post office to the public, are all included in the role.

“I think what I will miss most is my customers, and working with everyone here. There are 8 of us here, it's a really good group. I will miss that.”

Over the last couple of weeks, Mallory Garrison, who is moving over from the Hartington Post Office, to take over the Inverary postmaster role, has been working with Julie Colgrave. She takes over next week.

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