It all started with the introduction of special postal zones, the number of which gradually grew. Zip codes that included numbers have been used in Canada since 1925, and the first city where they appeared was Toronto. What did it look like in practice? When a dispatch had to be made, the number of the area in which the exact address was located was given.
By 1943 there were 14 zones in Toronto, and a year later there were zones in Montreal.
Obviously, there was a tendency for cities to have postal zones. This meant only one thing: this division would soon be used in other major Canadian cities, in particular Quebec, Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg. Accordingly, the number of the zone in which the address is located was now to be indicated when mail was sent.
The index situation began to change in the late sixties. It was then that the codes, which consisted of one or two digits, were replaced by three-digit codes. But the new codes consisting of three digits did not last very long in their form either, because they did not make the mailing system any easier or any faster. Therefore, it was soon announced that a new nationwide postal code system would be developed.
What was the key reason for this decision?
The rapid growth of Canada’s cities began in the fifties and sixties. The urban population was also growing, which resulted in a growing number of postal items that could be sent across the country.
In numbers, it looks like this: while there were billions of letters and parcels in the early fifties, there were tens of billions in the early sixties. It is easy to imagine how difficult it was to process correspondence manually, to make error-free sorting. Postal workers now had to work much harder and this only created problems.
The solution was to make some processes automatic. Then delivery would begin to run smoothly and all deadlines would be met.
It is logical that soon, namely in 1969, the decision was made to create perfect postal codes. So instead of three-digit codes, new six-digit codes were introduced. But before the new system was put into circulation and allowed to spread throughout the country, it was decided to test it in a single city. The city of Ottawa was chosen for this purpose. When it was clear that the system worked, it spread throughout the province of Manitoba, and by 1974 the new indices were already being used by more than 38%.
What changes have occurred?
Once the new system was implemented, Canada Post was able to process about 27,000 items per hour with its sorting devices. This was incomparably higher than before. As a result, deliveries were much faster and the error rate was reduced to zero. The companies also benefited because they could now guarantee that orders would be filled on time and thereby scale their operations.
Controversy and boycott
But not everyone was happy with the new arrangements, despite their obvious benefits. The Canadian Postal Workers Union was against the changes. The reason was that employees who had to sort mail with automatic machines were paid less than those who did it manually. It got to the point where March 20, 1975, was declared a postal code boycott day!
However, this was relatively short-lived. By 1976, the boycott was over, and the new system was working nationwide.