must have missed the memo

Remember the special envelopes that used to be included with Christmas cards sold here in Canada? You know, the ones with the 6 boxes on the bottom line for the postal code, all by itself? Those things have, until this point, led me to believe that leaving the postal code all lonely on the bottom line is the cardinal rule of addressing mail in Canada. I always figured it was done this way because of magical mail sorters, and so I went along with it despite preferring the method popular in the US.

After seeing most of the bills I get using the method I’ve grown accustomed to in the US, I got a little curious what the “right” way is. Turns out that the way I preferred it, and the way Canadian businesses are sending it (which, really, should have been my first clue) is actually the correct way, after all. Damn you, Christmas Card memories messing with my head. I’ve also noticed that most mail from friends and family uses the “wrong” way of addressing an envelope, so I’m not the only brainwashed one.

Oh, and kudos to Canada Post for explaining how to address mail so well, I’m impressed (seriously).

Completely useless update – the sample address given on all the envelopes of Canada Post’s addressing information is a street that’s about two blocks away from where I grew up. It was also part of my paper route for the long-defunct Ottawa Journal (where the Journal Towers buildings get their name), which was heads and tails above the Ottawa Citizen. So endeth the useless trivia.

3 thoughts on “must have missed the memo

  1. In a nice bit of consistency, if you use the postal code lookup ( it doesn’t just return the code, but rather the whole address, in the approved format.

    Yes, it’s disconcerting when a government (or semi-government) organization has that level of clarity and consistency. Akin to a delicious meal on a domestic Air Canada flight.

  2. Akin to a delicious meal on a domestic Air Canada flight.

    Now you’re dreaming.

    In all seriousness, I think we take for granted the level of effort the Canadian government has put into its information sources. I remember when we pretty much were the direction behind it, and the people we worked with totally understood the whole idea behind making info accessible leading to more time to do the “important” things.

    My municipal government’s site kicks serious ass, and they’re re-developing it to make the information even more accessible. I like how most places get it, and do their best to put the info we need out there. The big trick will be to show people how to tap this resource, and make it as easy as a phone call.

  3. Conversely, *my* municipal government’s site verges on useless, thanks to an absolutely brutal search algorithm, and an opaque heirarchy. (

    Aren’t postal codes optional?

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