When you enter the Canada Post office in Haines Junction, rest assured Marliese Whelan will greet you with a smile, even if you can’t see it under the mask. Whelan has served as postmaster for two-and-a-half years. She does everything from mailing letters and picking up mail, to sending and receiving parcels.
Born and raised in Newfoundland, where permanent jobs at the post office are scarce, Whelan learned about the job opportunity from an internal job posting. She had a telephone interview while sitting in her car. When she was offered the job, Whelan sold everything except her sense of adventure and headed North.
After a 10-day drive across the country (where she encountered elk, a gigantic herd of bison and a snow storm), Whelan arrived in Haines Junction after midnight, to start her new posting the next morning. She didn’t even know, at that point, where the office was located, but when she opened the door of her motel room to the majesty of Kluane National Park, she was captivated by the beauty of the mountains.
Whelan is friendly and personable, She has met nearly every member of the Haines Junction community and even some of those living in the surrounding areas. She says the community is wonderful, inviting and scenic. Although she misses her home in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, her family, friends, and the smell of the ocean, she feels blessed and privileged to live in Haines Junction.
When asked if she has a message she would like to share, Whelan says that people leave a lot of things behind at her counter, including keys, sunglasses, credit cards, even a hearing aid. In future, if you’re missing something, check with the post office!
Whelan has a magic drawer behind her counter in the post office. The drawer, based on an idea she brought with her from Newfoundland, is stocked with stickers and pencils that celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Canada Day and other seasonal events. The goodies are for children who visit with caregivers, but are often left out of the business portion of the visit. Whelan, who dresses up on Halloween, wants to make the visit to the post office fun for children by putting the spotlight on them, and making them feel special and important.
As a child, she herself once thought the post office was a magical place where she could post and pick up letters from her pen pals. That sense of wonder and delight about how the post can help has not left her. Marliese Whelan, postmaster of Haines Junction, is ready to help, and happy to do so. She’s a refreshing delight and a great addition to Haines Junction.