Post office mix-up sends letter meant for 94-year-old Australian woman to Sydney, N.S., instead

SYDNEY, N.S. — A Christmas card bound for Down Under will be a bit late after it made an unexpected stop in Cape Breton.

The holiday letter was one of many sent by Doug and Jennifer Beggs, a retired couple from the Ottawa suburb of Manotick. It’s intended recipient was Jennifer’s 94-year-old sister, Pat Gillespie, who lives in North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

The card was affixed with the proper $2.50 stamp and was postmarked on Dec. 18. A legitimate Australian address was legibly scribbled on the front of the envelope and the destination country’s name was underlined twice.

But the letter has yet to arrive.

It didn’t stay in Ontario, either. Somehow it ended up in the mail box of a Sydney, Nova Scotia, couple who just happen to share the same street name and the same address as the intended recipient in the other Sydney, the one with the famous opera house.

But that’s where the similarities end — the names are different, not even close to being similar, and the community address is written as North Sydney, N.S.W. (New South Wales).

At the request of the Cape Breton Post, Canada Post reviewed the situation and confirmed there was an internal mistake in the sorting process, for which it offered its corporate apologies.

The card is now on its way to the Australian nonagenarian who lives in an upscale neighbourhood just a few hundred metres north of the renowned Sydney Harbour Bridge and the architecturally unique Sydney Opera House.

“Pat will certainly be delighted with the turn of events – not every Christmas card goes on such a journey,” said Jennifer’s husband Doug, who like his wife and sister-in-law is originally from England.

“We came to Canada for a better life, a better place to raise our children and she went to Australia – she still lives on her own, looks after herself and she’ll be 95 years old in a couple of weeks.”

For the record, both Sydneys were named for Thomas Townshend, the 1st Viscount Sydney, who served as the Home Secretary in the British cabinet. The Nova Scotia community was founded in 1785, while its Southern Hemisphere namesake was established as a penal colony three years later.

The recent incorrectly sorted card incident is not the first time the two Sydneys have been confused. In 2009, a pair of travelers from the Netherlands landed in Sydney, Nova Scotia, after incorrectly booking airline tickets to visit family in Australia.

One of them explained they had no idea that a second Sydney even existed.

There are also at two other documented cases of European travelers who landed in Cape Breton instead of their intended destination Down Under.

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