For 66 years, the Devlin post office has been manned by a member of Trudy Badiuk’s family.
But on Friday, after 32 years, Badiuk is retiring from her position as postmistress and the family tradition will come to an end.
“I said it wouldn’t bother me to quit but it will,” she said through tears there last week.
“I know I’m going to miss it.”
Her grandfather, George Cooke, worked as postmaster from 1950 until his death in 1955.
Then her grandmother (Cooke’s wife) became the acting postmaster, and then postmistress, until her retirement in 1968.
Badiuk’s mom, Jean Hughes, took over and worked there until 1995 while Badiuk herself started in 1984 as a part-time employee.
“I sort of just fell into it,” she remarked, noting her mom asked her to help out and she agreed.
Badiuk had worked at Rainycrest at the time, but she was able to take some hours at the post office and eventually led to her full-time employment.
“It worked out well for me,” Badiuk said, noting she initially thought she’d do it for a couple of years but it worked out to be her permanent position.
“But that’s okay, I really liked it,” she grinned.
Badiuk’s familiarity with the post office started when she was very young.
“Every since we were little kids, I remember going to the post office which was, at the time, a little white building over by the Devlin Garage,” she recalled.
“You couldn’t really see in the back, but my grandma would take us into the back sometimes and there was a little oil stove,” she noted.
“At that time, they owned the post office, so they paid for the heat and the hydro.
“It was always in the family,” she added. “It was just a community place—everybody stopped by the post office and lots of people still do.
“They have little visits when they come here.”
Badiuk stressed she never hated coming to work. “It was always a good place to come,” she said.
But she has seen lots of changes over the years, such as the location (a new building, the current one, opened in 1975) and technological advancements, like acquiring a computer system, as well as a debit and credit machine.
“Things have changed because most people pay their bills online now, so that’s been a big difference,” she remarked.
“But the post office still does a lot of flyers and things.”
Badiuk did note rural mail delivery hasn’t changed too much over the years.
“When my dad first started, it was six days a week, Monday through Saturday mornings, and then it became three days a week, both runs, Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, which it is now,” she explained.
She added another change has been that Northwest Bay mail goes to the band office now and they distribute it.
“I think when my mom started working, she made $3.50 an hour,” Badiuk recalled, adding they also had to pay for all the utilities and upkeep.
The post office became a government-owned building in 1975.
So as a Canada Post employee, Badiuk received sick days and holidays.
“I’ve always enjoyed working here,” she said. “I thought they are a good company to work for.”
And despite all the changes over the years, the reduction of usage, and the tension between union workers and Canada Post this past summer, Badiuk said post offices still are needed in small communities.
“Most of the community still supports the local post office,” she noted.
“You don’t see a lot of people writing letters anymore but they want their flyers.
“The post office does money-grams, gift cards, and are more like a retail store then they used to be,” Badiuk added.
“And they really are a community hub where neighbours get to see each other.”
Small community post office also provided plenty of personalized service.
“Here you get wonderful service,” said one customer. “You know you can count on Trudy.”
“Over the years, you get to know everyone,” Badiuk said. “When you get the letter that says ‘To Grandma on the farm’ and you know where it goes, you’ve been around a long time.
“Still today we can get the odd piece of mail that says, ‘To mom and dad,’ and we can usually figure out who it’s meant for.”
As well, Badiuk noted if people missed a stamp, they used to just put it on and send them a little note saying you owe this much.
“Of course, with the computer that doesn’t work so well anymore,” she reasoned, adding she’ll also send out books of stamps to people when requested and help people find the most cost-effective way to send items.
“They do like when I can help them and to me that’s just good customer service.”
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Badiuk was treated to a birthday/retirement party by family and friends.
Turning 60 years old, her pension is as big as it’s going to get and she had enough years to retire.
Plus with the physical demands of the job starting to take a toll on her, Badiuk decided it was time to retire.
She doesn’t have any concrete plans for her life beyond the post office, but she knows she wants to continue being active in the community.
“There’s always volunteer work to be done,” she remarked, citing the food bank and Meals on Wheels always are looking for help.
She’s also going to be a grandma for the first time in April, so she’ll have plenty of time to spend with the newest member of the family.
Badiuk hopes members of the community will stop by this Friday (Nov. 4) to wish her a happy retirement.
She doesn’t want people to stay away because it will be sad.
“It’s been good,” she enthused, adding there are just a few more things to do to get the place in order before she leaves.
Badiuk has spent the week hauling her own personal items from her “second home.”
The post office also was getting some new flooring before the new postmaster, who is coming from outside of the district, will arrive.
“Thank you to all the customers and community members,” Badiuk said, adding they all helped to make her job as postmistress so enjoyable over the years.