With my four letters to the government and an additional letter, I’m putting five envelopes in the post today. E‑mail and alternative delivery methods have drastically reduced my use of Canada Post without my really noticing. The last time I mailed five envelopes in one day was 1989, which is also the last time I sent Christmas cards.

For Christmas 1989, Canada Post encouraged people to send Christmas cards by offering a special rate. Use their special bar-coded envelopes, print the postal code characters in special boxes, and you needed only a 33¢ ‘Greet More’ stamp, as opposed to the regular 38¢ domestic rate that year. How do I know? A few months ago I found a 10-stamp booklet of those Greet More stamps with 8 stamps still in it.

Today, I could use two Greet More stamps on a domestic letter and I’d only be over-paying by 9¢. How times change. In 1943, the basic domestic postal rate was 4¢. The rate held until 1954 when it was increased to 5¢. It remained steady until 1968 when it increased to 6¢. That’s only two increases in 25 years. You could say the two increases totalled 50%, but it was only 2¢.

Things became more familiar in the seventies. From 1971 to 1979, the rate went from 7¢ to 17¢, and when Canada Post became a Crown Corporation in 1982, the domestic rate nearly doubled from 17¢ to 30¢ in one jump. From the late eighties to today, rare is the year in which there is no increase. We now require a 57¢ stamp to send a letter within Canada, $1 for a letter to the United States, and $1.70 for international surface mail. Is it any wonder we use the Internet when we can?

I got sick and tired of buying stamps, and then later needing to buy more 1¢ or 2¢ stamps because of an increase. I stopped buying them in advance. I bought the stamps I needed, when I needed them. I seem not to have been the only one to do this because Canada Post came out with a stamp that is safe to buy. First issued in 2006, the ‘permanent’ stamp is sold for the current domestic rate but it remains valid even after the price increases. Wikipedia reports that in the year before the permanent stamp’s debut, Canada Post had to print 60 million 1¢ stamps for those who wanted to use stamps purchased before the increase. I gather this cost more money than it generated. The permanent stamps show a letter ‘P’ in a maple leaf instead of a denomination.

With permanent stamps widely available, and my local convenience store only stocking individual stamps intermittently, I decided that it was time to again plan ahead. I bought a roll of 100 permanent stamps. They charged me $57, but I’ll be set for a long while to come.

Oh, one more thing. I only needed one stamp for those five letters. Four are going to government officials, one to the Prime Minister and three to Members of Parliament, so they require no postage. As long as your name and return address is also on the envelope, you need not apply any stamps to a letter sent to an MP or the Prime Minister at:

The House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON,
K1A 0A6

I don’t know if Canada Post will deliver a postage-free letter to anyone with an office at that address, but they certainly will deliver such a letter to an MP or the PM.

Stamp image courtesy and © 2010 Canada Post.

Past Canada Post rates courtesy of Canadian Philately.