A fond farewell to Bennington’s beloved letter carrier

Dan Thornback, letter carrier retires after two decades in Bennington Heights.
Dan Thornback, letter carrier retires after two decades in Bennington Heights.

Dan Thornback has been a fixture in the Bennington Heights community for nearly two decades. He’s also spent time in the Leaside area over his long career.

Dan started with Canada Post in 1989; it had been his childhood dream to become what was referred to as a “mailman” back then.

Until his retirement in June, Dan could be found Monday to Friday going from house to house, not at a leisurely pace but at quite a clip. There is some debate among residents as to whether or not Dan can actually walk with a normal stride.

After close to 30 years, Dan delivered his final piece of mail on June 15th.

Dan was more than just the guy who delivered letters, parcels and those dreaded bills; he was a friend to many in the neighbourhood. He made a point to know people by name and quite often would stop to have a chat with them while on his route. He’d ask about the kid who was away at school, the family pet, your vacation, or even just the weather. One could tell it wasn’t just idle chit chat; he did it because he genuinely cared. Even the dogs in Bennington loved seeing Dan, possibly because he always had a treat for them.

One resident mentioned that when he first moved into his home Dan was one of the first people to introduce himself and welcome him to the neighbourhood.

Another resident mentioned that Dan always took an interest in her family and clearly enjoyed watching her kids grow up.

For me it was the time several years ago as I was parking at a local grocery store. A Canada Post truck pulled up and parked right in front of me. It was Dan. He signalled for me to wait a second and disappeared into the back of his truck. A couple of minutes later he emerged with three envelopes. Dan knew he would miss me at my house and that the envelopes – containing passports – would have to be signed for. He wanted to save me a trip to the post office to collect them the next day. Now that’s service!

Apart from his day job Dan also coached with the Leaside Soccer and Leaside Hockey associations when his son played several years ago.

During his final week, many residents decorated their mailboxes with balloons, streamers, bows and personal notes of thanks to Dan for his years of service.

On Thurs., June 14th the residents of Bennington Heights held a farewell celebration for Dan, where he was given a gift from the community as well as a letter of appreciation from Mayor John Tory and Councillor Jon Burnside.

Dan plans to enjoy his retirement with his wife, three children and three dogs. Maybe even pick up a golf bag and work on his game.

Dan wears a size 10. Whoever takes over from him has some mighty big shoes to fill.

Happy retirement, Dan, you will be missed!

This column was written by guest contributor Sue Barrett.