The Letter Writing Revolution

Revitalizing a Lost Art One Letter at a Time

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Letter To My Followers

Dear TLWR Followers;

I hope that you have all had a wonderful summer and that you are looking forward to the fall and the return to routine. I have had a busy but restful summer and I look forward to some new projects starting in the coming months.

After much thought, I have decided to bid farewell to this blog as new opportunities present themselves.  It has been a great year of writing about the lost art of letter writing and I know that I have played a role in the revitalization of this to some degree. I know that I am enjoying letter writing again as I hope you are, too.

If you wish to check out other projects, please visit my new website which features an essay I wrote this past June. This essay has become very popular in a short time and now I am in the midst of writing a book. You can visit

Thank you to all of you who followed TLWR and made it a success.



Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Break

I know my blog hasn't been that interesting lately.....even before the strike happened.

I am busy these days. Even too busy to write a letter although that will change as I am taking holidays starting July 18th for two weeks. I have decided to take a blog-cation as well and will return in September. So, I hope you will all check back in 8 weeks and I hope you have a restful summer.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Letter Writing Can Now Resume

Last week the government ordered Canadian Postal Workers back to their jobs.

It was quite a highlight to go into the post office and check my mail. It had been two weeks since I had even bothered. We received some bills but also some cards and letters that had been sitting in transit since mid June.

Now I need to find some time to sit down and get writing. I know I owe a few letters and hope to get caught up by the end of July. I will begin posting more now that Canada Post has returned to normal.

Happy Letter Writing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strike Coming to an End?

There have been rumours and murmurings that this Canada Post strike may be over soon but not because they managed to come to an agreement. The postal workers are being ordered back to work. I suspect the mail service will still be slow. How can you expect unhappy employees to give 110% especially when they are being forced to return to their jobs?

I attended my brother's wedding this past weekend and they had a table set up for guests to write letters that they would open in the future. I wrote about this in my post Letters on a Wedding Day. I wrote three letters over the course of the evening to be opened 5-20 years from the wedding day. Sitting down and writing those letters reminded me of how much I LOVE to write letters. I have decided to get back into it, strike or no strike, and at least have some written for mailing when the opportunity presents itself again. My pile of letter writing supplies are literally collecting dust sitting unused on my kitchen table. I haven't put a stamp on an envelope in weeks and I haven't bothered to walk into the Post Office in days. There's no point. Mail isn't coming or going anywhere. Kind of sad, really.

I am hopeful, though, that this glitch in The Letter Writing Revolution will pass and soon my mailbox will be brimming with letters once again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Circle Letter

I have received news that as of midnight last night, our area of the country will be directly affected by this rotational strike of Canada Post. I have cringed over and over at the news reports regarding the lack of need for the mail system as the world becomes more and more electronic. I was daydreaming as I drove along the highway the other day about what letter writers would do if the postal system decided to call it quits. I have found these last few weeks frustrating waiting and wondering and holding off. I have had friends who could have used a special card in the mail but I didn't send any. I realize how much I really like the postal system especially today when I opened the mailbox and it was empty. That hasn't happened since last summer. This is such a rare occurrence that I even blogged about it when it happened.

In the meantime, the revolution has come to a grinding halt although my inspiration to blog about all things letter writing has returned and so that can only be a good sign. Perhaps this shift in my thinking will somehow impact Canada Post and soon the mail will be travelling again to and from one another.

Recently, I received a letter from a woman who lives locally who follows my blog. She wondered if I had ever heard of "Circle Letters" and if so, why I hadn't written about them. She said she would have been rather surprised if I hadn't heard of them. Well, folks, I hadn't heard of them. Had no idea what she was talking about. She offered to explain it in an email but I was even more confused so I went to her home so that she could show me a Circle Letter and explain it to me in layman's terms. I have attempted to explain it since and I just seem to go around in circles, kind of like the Circle Letter. I pulled this explanation straight off the internet  from here:

The Circle Letter by Rhoda Weber Mack
The circle letter is useful for keeping community with scattered friends and colleagues. We use this for our eight sibling family, to keep the common conversation intact. Here's how: 
  • Write your own letter, and mail it with a list of mail stops to the next in line, who inserts his or her own letter along with yours, to the next stop, etcetera all the way back to you. Now, read the fat contents with relish, withdraw your old letter, add a new one, and mail it on. Full circle.

My old letters add up to a diary of our days, forgotten moments with our children, moods of summer afternoons or wintry mornings long ago when I sat down to add my commentary to the family circle letter.

Extracted from the Whole Earth Review 

The woman who shared this interesting concept with me  had an example to show me. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me that day to photograph an actual Circle Letter. She comes from a large family and in order to keep in touch with her siblings, they use the Circle Letter as a personal and effective way to communicate. Rather than writing out a separate letter to each person, they simply write one letter and send it to the person next on the list who adds their letter (after reading the ones inside) and mails it on to the next in line. The list of names/addresses is contained in the envelope so you always know. Eventually the packet of letters grows larger and returns to the initial person on the list. They catch up on all of the news that has been shared since they first sent their letter weeks earlier and then they take out that original letter and add a new one. Round and round it goes. Brilliant.

Perhaps I will start a Circle Letter to be shared between myself, my blood sisters and our new sister-in-law, Ada, who is marrying my brother on Saturday.

How many of YOU have heard of a Circle Letter?

Happy 1st Blogiversary TLWR

One year ago, I launched my first web-log, The Letter Writing Revolution. Although my posts have been few and far between in the last couple of months, I am still here and still hoping to keep the revolution going. It hasn't helped that Canada Post is having a serious strike and there is no light shining at the end of this tunnel for now anyway. My husband thinks I should still write and mail letters in spite of the strike as eventually Canada Post will be back in business. Eventually those letters will make it to their destination. I disagree, however, as I like my letters to arrive to the recipient in a timely fashion so that the news and information contained in the letter are still fresh.

The highlights of this first year my TLWR Blog are:
  • Letters to a Soldier which was very exciting resulting in a personal letter exchange with a soldier posted in Afghanistan as well as a phone call from Chris....the soldier who received and distributed the letters from TLWR followers.
  • Love Letters when I dug out some of my old love letters and shared bits and pieces with you, my dear readers, and encouraged all of you to sit down and write a letter of love to a deserving heart.
  • Letters in a Time of Tragedy which was inspired by my trip to NYC in October 2010 and specifically to Ground Zero.
  • A Letter to Someone Dying which was a post written during my grandmother's final days and which addressed one of the toughest but most important letters we can ever write.
  • Blessed Be the Letter Carrier : A post that came out of two field trips that I did accompanying an Ottawa letter carrier in the fall and the winter. Yes, blessed be the letter carrier, especially now as their employer (Canada Post) makes it very difficult for them to work when many of them would like to.
  • A Box of Letters which featured the handwritten correspondence between my paternal grandparents, Pearl and Eldon Keon.
  • Letters on a Wedding Day which inspired my brother and his soon-to-be-wife to incorporate this idea (courtesy of my sister, Stephanie) into their own wedding which will take place in three days!
  • Letters for a Birthday celebrated my 40th birthday and the letters written by dear friends which were by the far the best gifts I could have ever received.
Thank you for reading my blog and commenting along the way. Thank you, too, for the letters that came from near and far from those I know and from those who were strangers prior to the launch of The Letter Writing Revolution.  For now, this blog will continue and will hopefully contain more frequent postings.

What were your favourite posts or experiences from The Letter Writing Revolution?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blessed Be The Letter Carrier

While Canada Postal Workers strike, I wanted to remind everyone of the work that they do. Please read the posts I did on the days I walked a route with one Ottawa Letter Carrier.
Blessed Be The Letter Carrier Part #1
Blessed Be The Letter Carrier Part #2

Monday, May 30, 2011

Why We Must Support Our Postal Workers

This is a lazy post as I am simply linking you to this blog that has an interesting post.
I have yet to read it but my Postal Worker friend posted it and so I thought I would, too.

We are still sitting and waiting as to whether or not Canada Post will strike........any day now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Looming Postal Strike

The Letter Writing Revolution may have to come to a grinding halt if there is, indeed, a Canada Post strike next week. My advice would be that if you are Canadian or sending letters to Canada, that you continue to write your letters but hold of on mailing them until after the strike, if there is a strike in the end. Read on:

Canadian Postal Workers Could Strike

Posted: May 18, 2011 1:44 PM ET(CBC News)

Preparations are being made for a possible postal strike as early as May 24, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers says.The union said in a statement Wednesday that it and Canada Post remain far apart on many issues, including wages for new employees and a proposed sick plan that it says is inferior. Negotiations are still ongoing, however. The union will be able to exercise its right to strike and Canada Post its right to lock out at midnight on May 24. Both sides have to give three days notice of their intention to strike or lockout. The collective agreement expired on Jan. 31.

Cheques for pensioners and social assistance recipients will still be delivered regardless, the union said.Volunteers from the union will deliver federal Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and child benefits cheques, as well as provincial social assistance cheques in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.The B.C. government has said it will mail out income assistance cheques one week early on May 18 rather than May 25 to ensure they arrive.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fan Letter

While visiting with friends last night, we discussed the power of the humble letter to get things done and I recalled one letter in particular that I wrote in the spring of 2009 when I heard that my childhood heart throb, Bryan Adams, was going to be performing an acoustic gig in a smaller than usual venue. I decided right then and there that it was now or never. I was going to meet him face to face and The Reckless Campaign was born. I spread the word on Facebook and even wrote a letter to Ellen DeGeneres to see if she could lend a hand in making arrangements. I wasn't really sure who to contact and then it dawned on me that I should just write a letter to customer service of the venue~ The National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Surely, I reasoned, they would pass along my written request to the "right" people. Here is the letter I wrote:

March 22nd 2009

Dear Ms. Deneau;

I am writing to you with a very unusual and special request. I thank you in advance for reading this letter.
It all started when Ellen DeGeneres decided that she wanted to dream BIG and so she started the "O Yes I Can" Campaign. She wanted to be on the cover of "O" magazine. If you have ever read "O" magazine, you know that Oprah has always been the one and only person featured on her monthly covers.....until recently when she shared her cover for the first time with First Lady Michelle Obama. On Friday, March 20th Ellen's dream came true when Oprah invited her to share a cover of "O" with her. I, too, have a dream.

When I was 12 years old, I was introduced to the music of Bryan Adams at a cottage in Temiskaming, Quebec during the summer of 1983. Cuts Like a Knife had been released a few months earlier and I got my first taste of rock n' roll (not counting the Elvis records I listened to growing up). As I blossomed into a young teenager, I would rush home everyday after school and run upstairs to the room I shared with my sister. I would throw on my Bryan Adam's cassette tape and sing into a full length mirror using a hairbrush as my microphone. By January 1984, I met my first love at a small town hockey rink and songs from the album Reckless were topping the charts. In one of the handwritten love letters he sent to me (long before email!), he wrote out the words to the song "Heaven." This song would have a special place in my heart for years to come. Bryan Adams came to Ottawa several times when I was a young teen but I was never allowed to go as it usually was on a school night or I was unable to find transportation. I grew up in a small town in the Ottawa Valley about an hour from Ottawa.
Three years ago, I heard that Bryan Adams was coming to Ottawa and I tried winning tickets by calling into a local radio station and singing "Kids Wanna Rock." I didn't win. Thankfully, my family surprised me with tickets to his concert. Seeing him live brought back all of the feelings I had as a young teenager.
This past Monday I was surprised again when my husband (who, by the way, was the boy that wrote the words to "Heaven" in that letter) told me that he got me two tickets to the concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for this August. I cannot wait to have the opportunity to see him again live in a smaller venue and performing acoustically and solo.
I would like to meet Bryan Adams in person…….just for a moment. This is why I have created Julie’s Reckless Campaign. Not sure how one goes about arranging something like this but I know it can’t be impossible. I figure that, like Ellen DeGeneres, if you can dream it and conceive it, you can achieve it. I am not even certain if you are the person to be addressing this letter to but perhaps, you could forward it on to someone who might help with my dream. Any assistance on this would be greatly appreciated!! I can be reached at ***-***-**** or at the above address! I look forward to your correspondence.
Julie Keon
Two weeks later, on the afternoon of my 38th birthday, my husband received a call from a man who identified himself as the concert promoter for the Bryan Adams tour in Ottawa. This man had also been responsible for bringing The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and many other big names to our capital city. He asked Tim to pass along the message that he would make arrangements for me to meet Bryan Adams before the show. I couldn't believe it and thought that this had to be the best birthday present ever!

In August my sister, Stephanie, and I drove to Ottawa, had dinner and then made our way to the NAC. Shortly before the show we gathered with a few others in a small room and waited for Bryan to arrive. They served wine and snacks and informed us that we would all get a copy of his new cd and we were to unwrap it and write our names on a post-it note so that Bryan wouldn't have to go through the trouble of asking the spelling of our name ('cause you know what a pain that is......sheesh). And then, there he was........standing within a few feet of me. I was a little stunned as memories came back of how I used to sit in front of the television waiting to watch Video Hits and hoping that I would see him in a video. And then when we would see him  perform live on the Juno's or the American Music Awards I resembled the screaming teenagers during Beatlemania. And now, I was desperately trying to hush up the screaming 12-year old that apparently still resides in this older body. His "handlers" lined us up like cattle and one by one, we got a couple of minutes to have our cd signed and a photo taken and that was it.

Me with Bryan Adams~ August 2009

Do not underestimate the power of the handwritten letter. If there is something that you really, really want, send a letter and should it land in the appropriate hands, you will be surprised what amazing things can materialize.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letter Writing Campaign in Support of Midwifery Care

The following is courtesy of the Ottawa Integrative Health Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. If you live in Ontario, Canada and support midwifery care, please read the following post.

Join the Letter Writing Campaign in support of Midwifery Care,
May 5th – May 19th

Thank you taking the time to read this very important message about the future of midwifery care in Ottawa.

The four midwives of the Ottawa Valley Midwives need our help in establishing more hospital privileges for midwives at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.  Currently four midwives have hospital privileges there – this does not begin to meet the demand for midwifery care in Western Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley.

New Midwives Need Jobs

When midwifery students graduate, they need hospital privileges to begin practicing.  If the Queensway Carleton Hospital does not extend hospital privileges to new midwives, then there is limited spaces for practice in Ottawa.  Six midwifery students who have had placements in Ottawa will be graduating this spring and we want them to stay in Ottawa so that midwifery care can grow in our community.

Letter Writing Campaign
Please join our letter writing campaign to urge Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman and decision makers at the Queensway Carleton Hospital to increase hospital privileges so new midwives can practice there.  It makes no sense to have unemployed midwives when we have an obstetrical crisis!

Put Your Support For Midwifery Care Into Action

You may be receiving this message because you birthed your children with midwives and know just how special and extensive midwifery care is.  Maybe you birthed your children at home and you realize that in order to attend homebirths, midwives need hospital privileges.  Or perhaps you are pregnant and are wondering why all the practices in Ottawa have such long waiting lists.  Or maybe you have children and you would like them to have access to midwifery care when they are older.  Unless hospitals increase midwifery privileges now, it’s unlikely our children will be able to access midwifery care when they need it.

Whatever your reasons for supporting midwifery care, we urge you to put your support into action.  We realize that many of you who are participating in this campaign are busy parents of young babes.  We deeply appreciate your time and efforts and have tried to make this process as easy as possible for you.

Writing and Sending Your Letters
Following this message, you will see two sample letters.  One is for the Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health for Ontario.  He is very supportive of midwifery care and is in the position to pressure the Queensway Carleton Hospital into policy changes.

The other letter is addressed to Dr. Andrew Falconer, Chief of Staff at the Queensway Carleton Hospital and to Kathleen Nunn, the Director of the Childbirth Centre at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.

Personal letters have a far greater impact than form letters.

Please take the time to personalize your letter, include your own birth story, your own reasons for supporting midwifery care or your own story of frustration at not being able to access midwifery care.  Following the letters, we have included facts about midwifery care that you may use to personalize your letter.

We are providing e-mail addresses where possible.  We have been told by hospital admin that the doctors we are sending letters to do not read their own e-mail, so snail mail will be much more effective at getting a strong message across.
Please send your letters to:

The Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health for Ontario

George Smitherman is very supportive of midwifery care and is in the position to pressure hospitals to offer more privileges to midwives.
Dr. Andrew Falconer, Chief of Staff
Queensway Carleton Hospital
3045 Baseline Rd
Ottawa, ON
K2H 8P4

Kathleen Nunn, Director of the Childbirth Centre
Queensway Carleton Hospital
3045 Baseline Rd
Ottawa, ON
K2H 8P4

Sample Letters

Sample letters available at:
Additional Facts About Midwifery Care – for personalizing your letters

Midwife-attended births are cost  –effective for the health care system.  This cost-effectiveness is a  result of fewer interventions, such as c-sections and episiotomies, as well as  shorter hospital stays and lower re-admission rates to hospitals.

In August 2004, Health Minister  George Smitherman said, “What better way to invest our precious health care  dollars than in support of the midwives who help to bring us such  wonders.”  The province needs to focus on sustaining the profession to  allow women to benefit from midwifery care.

Because midwives continue to  provide round-the-clock care for women and babies during those first few  critical weeks of life, women are 60% less likely to be re-admitted to  hospital.

Pre-natal visits with midwives are  typically 45 minutes long, so clients have time to ask questions, consult with  their midwife about nutrition, bring family members with them to appointments  and build a relationship of trust with their midwife. 

Midwives see birth as a natural  process

Midwifery has a clear record of  growth when there has been an overall decline in the numbers of maternity care  providers.  Granting more hospital privileges gives midwives the ability  to continue to increase their role in providing critically needed maternity  care to women in Ottawa

The demand for midwifery care is  outpacing the number of midwives in the city
The Queensway Carleton Hospital’s core  values are:  Accountability, innovation and respect – values that are in  keeping with midwifery care
Childbirth Services is one of the  QCH’s cornerstone programs
There is a high population of  young families in Western  Ottawa.

For more information:
 Please contact Kathleen Wilker of Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care:

The following websites also offer great information about midwifery care:

Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care:
Association of Ontario Midwives:
Ottawa Valley Midwives:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hidden Letters

Century-old love letters found hidden inside N.S. home

A family in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has come across 31 love letters that had been hidden behind a wall in their house for almost a century. 
Pat Mackinnon and her family stumbled across the letters during a renovation project.
The letters were written by Captain Graham Roome to his fiancée Annie Hollett, as he fought in Europe during the First World War. They spanned five years and three countries, as he described details of the war, life abroad, and his feelings for her.
A passage in one of the letters reads: "I could almost imagine you here with me, your arms tucked through mine and every little while you'd look up at me and say I love you little boy..."
Roome eventually married Hollett, and in 1920 they built the house in Dartmouth where Mackinnon now lives.
When Mackinnon found the letters, she wanted to know more about the couple and if they had surviving family members.
"We started to read them, then I rushed home to Google the names and found the family," said Mackinnon.
She was able to track down Chris May, the grandson of Roome, who said the couple lived a long, happy marriage."
"They were very genuine, an in-love couple, and they served each other equally and faithfully all the way through," said May.
Along with the letters, the family found a Christmas card and pictures.
"I was so impressed with the times, his writing is beautiful, I thought wow, my sense is they were educated, madly in love, and apart from 1915 to 1919," said Mackinnon.
The letters have been given to the Roome's family.

With a report by CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl News Staff

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One of These Days......

.........I'm gonna sit down and write a long letter to all those good friends I've known.

I am in a bit of a quandary. I am not sure if anyone has noticed my lack of blogging recently. Perhaps, it is the fact that this is the longest attempt ever made for winter to turn to spring. Perhaps, it is the copious amounts of sugar I have been eating since before Easter. Perhaps, it is the lack of exercise lately. Most people I talk to have had it up to here (I am holding my hand up above my head!) with this weather and rain. Whatever it is, I have not been inspired to write on TLWR blog. It's like my inspiration melted with the snow. Even now that I am back on track with exercise and eating well, I am just "not that into it" anymore.

I recognize that writing a weekly column for our local newspaper puts more pressure on me to find the time to write and therefore leaves less time for writing on my blog. If my job was to only write, there wouldn't be a problem. Most days, I am casting, running workshops, teaching prenatal classes, running a hosuehold and caring for our daughter.

Lately, I have found I haven't had as much time to write letters. AAAAahhhahhhhhhhhhhhhhh....(That's me screaming). No time to write letters? How can that be? That is a priority in my life. But that is where I am at and what is the quandary, you ask?

Do I continue with the blog or do I wrap things up on the 1st anniversary of its launch (June 16th) and trust that the revolution will carry on without the blog?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This That and The Other Thing

I have to be honest.......I have not been inspired lately. I suppose there are only so many things one can write about when it comes to letter writing. I have not given up all hope yet but do need to slow down and get myself creating and writing interesting posts. I noticed I lost a follower. A sign that perhaps, the lost one checked back one too many times and found nothing new and decided to hit the road.

I am attempting to start a Pal-Sac chapter here in the Ottawa valley but still looking for an appropriate place to host it. I have been writing many letters this week in gratitude to all of those who made my birthday an extra special one. I will be mailing out about 20 letters Tuesday morning.

Found this great posting from 2009 on The Art of Manliness blog. Email the link to the men in your life to perhaps nudge them towards writing you a letter.

TLWR's one year blogiversary is coming up in June. Maybe time for a great giveaway.......

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Neglected But Not Deserted

I am aware of my lack of attention lately to The Letter Writing Revolution. As I completed Julie's 40's Project, took on a new position as a columnist at our local newspaper and became very busy with work and my home life, I have placed TLWR at the bottom of my priority list.

Ideally, I would post 2-3x per week. This keeps the blog interesting and prevents it from becoming stagnant. Is it do-able? It certainly is as I managed to do that for the first few months of offering my thoughts on letter writing. In a matter of weeks, TLWR will be celebrating it's 1st blogiversary. Hard to believe that almost an entire year has passed since I started out on this blogging journey to encourage the masses to write letters.

My kitchen table is a disaster right now as I  get caught up on various letter writing projects. I have the "Must Reply Now" pile and the "Letters to Write But Not Urgent" pile and this week, I have been working on writing Thank You Letters as opposed to thank you cards to my friends who helped me celebrate my 40th birthday and to those who sent gifts/cards/letters. Receiving the Letters for a Birthday was so heart warming and spirit lifting, that I thought I would return the feeling and write a letter back to each one. This is proving to take some time and my "free" time is limited. I hope to finish them all today. That is my goal anyway.

A corner of my kitchen table.

I wonder how many letters continue to get written. Has the enthusiasm worn off? Is the novelty of letter writing a thing of the past? Do you continue to write letters?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Letters for a Birthday

I am turning 40 in a couple of days. I had thought about having a big bash but opted for an intimate dinner party with some dear friends this past weekend. In lieu of gifts, my sister suggested to the guests that they each write me a letter~ a letter that would be handwritten and that would describe our roles in one another's lives, favourite memories and birthday wishes. The morning after, I settled on the couch with a mug of coffee and opened each letter. It was such a wonderful way to start the day and probably the most special and loving gifts I have ever received.
Reading one of several letters I received for my 40th birthday!

I was asked a few years ago to write a letter to a friend who was turning 40. Her husband secretly emailed many of her friends and colleagues and asked us all to write her a letter to be opened on her big day. I participated in this and thought it to be a wonderful idea!

We do not think to share our inner most thoughts about those we care about and admire until well, they are no longer able to hear them. Heartfelt thoughts and memories are often shared to a room full of grieving friends and family members at the funeral of one we once loved. A birthday can be a perfect opportunity to give the gift of a letter to a friend or family member. Don't be shy! It will be greatly appreciated and probably one of the most unique gifts the recipient receives.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letters on a Wedding Day

Many people are planning weddings this time of year especially if their wedding is scheduled to take place in the summer months. My own brother is planning a wedding and we are all eagerly anticipating June 18th when we will gain a new member to our family......officially.

I wanted to post about a really cool idea that I have only seen one time at one wedding. If you or someone you know is getting married in the coming months, you may want to consider incorporating this letter writing twist to your festivities.

My sister, Stephanie, and my brother-in-law, Robin, were married at an outdoor ceremony on the property of a beautiful log cabin in the Ottawa valley in August 2004.

After the marriage took place, there was a sit down dinner under a tent followed by live bluegrass music. We danced in our bare feet as the sun shone down upon us. The bride and groom requested that each one of us spend a few moments at a table that had been set up off to the side of the dancing. There was paper and pens, pencil crayons and markers. There were also pre-labeled envelopes with titles such as: Christmas 2005, Valentine's Day 2010, 10th Anniversary, 25th Anniversary, St. Patty's Day 2009, Easter 2005, etc. There were a lot of them and we were instructed to write a letter to the couple on their wedding day and then choose an envelope, insert the letter and seal it. The envelope was then placed in the basket for safe keeping.

Everyone took part......young children drew pictures of the day's events and some of the older guests wrote words of wisdom and tips for a happy marriage. Some of the guests have since passed on and those children are quickly growing up. I love this idea and wish I had done it for my own wedding.

My sister and her husband have had seven years of events where a letter written on their wedding day by one of their guests has been read. And they tell me they still have several to read in the coming years.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Lost Arts on CTV-Ottawa News

CTV-Ottawa (especially Joanne Schnurr) did an excellent job on Part One of The Lost Arts special series. The Letter Writing Revolution and Cooking at Home with your Kids were featured this evening. If you missed it or you are not in the CTV-Ottawa viewing region, you can see the clip here if you scroll down beneath the CTV News Video Player to Reviving The Lost Arts of Cooking and Letter-Writing.

There is also a photo gallery (with captions)of some of the letters my grandparents wrote to one another in the early part of their courtship and marriage. You can read the actual letters here or read more about TLWR and my grandparents treasured letters here.

The revolution is growing!

I'll be updating the blog momentarily!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Latest Stationery Gems

Before I share my two recent stationery discoveries, I want to send out a big thank you to Angel of Pal-Sac for sending me a selection of stationery and writing goodies and another big shout out to TLWR follower, Linda in Nova Scotia, for sending me some assorted stationery as well. Both happened to arrive on the same day. I have some letters to write and will happily dip into this new stash!

After receiving a comment on a recent post from Kaitlyn of isavirtue I checked out her blog and shopping site on Etsy and immediately fell in  love with her gorgeous homemade stationery. I also discovered that Kaitlyn and I have a lot in common:
  • she lives in Victoria, BC and I spent 5 years there 
  • she works for a well known BC artist whom I also know. I used to work for an art publishing company that published his work into art cards.
  • she has worked in many art galleries in Victoria as did I
  • she is a big fan of letter writing and well.......
  • and she came upon TLWR when she ran into a woman who is a friend of mine from years ago
 Here is a little peek at one of a few of the styles I purchased:

Now, my next new favourite is the complete opposite of Kaitlyn's gorgeous creations. Last summer I received a letter from Stephanie G. and she happily described that the paper that she wrote her words upon (and that I was holding in my hands) was made from elephant poo. What? Did she just say, "Elephant poo?" Yes, folks, there is even writing paper made from the dung of Sri Lankan elephants. Recently, I learned that a local shop carries many products made from the elephant poo......journals, notebooks, writing paper, envelopes and more. I visited Earth Rocks yesterday in Eganville, Ontario and bought this gorgeous writing set.
Elephant poo paper and a smashing carrying case!
The carrying case is made from the paper as well and covered with material from a Sri Lankan Princess' dress. I just think this writing paper is the coolest. No trees were harmed in the production of this paper! You can visit Earth Rock's store if you live in the Ottawa Valley or you can order the elephant writing sets online from their website for only $15. Earth Rocks also carries several lines of earth friendly cleaning products, laundry soaps, teas, cosmetic lines, men's products, jewelery, personal items, candles/incense, cloth diapers and swimming bottoms and other earth-respectful items. I think these writing paper sets (which, by the way, are hard to find these days) would make an inexpensive gift to your letter writing friends.

These are just two of my latest finds. If you like them ,too, then take a gander over to isavirtue and Earth Rocks and see what else they have to offer. Let me know about your favourite stationery that you have discovered.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Letters To Read On The Plane

I took my first plane ride when I was 19 years old. My older sister had invited me to travel with her and a friend to Europe. We planned to leave in early November and spend three months backpacking across the British Isles and western Europe. I had never flown before and was starting to feel really anxious about the whole thing. My sweet father decided to give me a test flight before departing for Amsterdam. He bought two return tickets from Ottawa to Toronto. We flew to Toronto and landed within an hour from take-off, had a beer in the airport lounge and then flew back to Ottawa a couple of hours later. It did the trick! I LOVED flying and felt so incredibly privileged for the opportunity to see the world from the sky.

Our departure date (Nov. 7th 1990) arrived and my sister and I (with a friend) boarded a KLM flight to Amsterdam. Once we were settled into our seats and had soared high up into the sky, my sister and I eagerly opened the handwritten letters given to us by our parents to be read on the plane. Little did we know that this small gesture would become a family tradition.

After that trip, every flight I took whether it be from Victoria to Ottawa or Ottawa to Victoria when I was living away from home, my boyfriend (and eventually husband) and family members would always slip a note into my bag "to read on the plane." I also wrote letters to my sister, Stephanie, when she flew to France for a student exchange as a teenager and again when she flew to Belfast, Ireland to attend a year of university. I have written letters for my husband when he flew to Ottawa from Victoria to start a new job and when he flew to Toronto on business. I wrote letters for my dad to read on the plane when he has travelled to Nepal, Africa and New Zealand and countless other places.

This morning, my niece Sarah, who is 12 years old, boarded a plane for her very first big trip away from home. She is travelling to Arizona and Nevada for a week and a bit with my parents. When she was only six weeks old, my dad gave her a book called, "I See Something Grand" which he had picked up during a trip to the Grand Canyon. She was his first grandchild and inside the book, he wrote her a note promising to take her to see the Grand Canyon when she 12 years old or so. And now he is.

My letter to read on the plane was lengthy and talked about the excitement of visiting new places and talking with the locals and trying out new food and seeing new sights. I told her about her mother's travelling bug and how her mother had travelled to Europe, Asia and Australia before she settled down to have children. I told her that she may get bitten by the travel bug after this trip. I enclosed a photo of her mom and I in 1990 on our first big trip away from home. My younger sister, Stephanie, as well as Sarah's mom, also wrote her letters to read on the plane.
My sister and I in Galway Bay (1990) on our way to the Aran Islands, Ireland
This family tradition of writing letters to be read on the plane is one that is now continuing into the next generation. It is never too late to start a tradition like this one. If your spouse travels a lot with business, start writing him or her a note (long or short) that (s)he has to wait on opening until (s)he is high in the sky.
Although I don't get the opportunity to travel much anymore, I know that when I do, I still look forward to these little messages of farewell and bon voyage!

Friday, March 4, 2011

TLWR In The News

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from CTV-Ottawa (Canadian Television's Ottawa station) asking me if I would be open to an interview regarding my blog about letter writing. "Of course!" was my reply. That afternoon, a reporter and a cameraman arrived at my home and spent an hour filming and interviewing me about The Letter Writing Revolution. If you live in the Ottawa area, tune in on March 21st and 22nd when CTV-Ottawa's 6pm news will feature a two-part series on The Lost Arts. The piece about TLWR will be the first segment. If you do not live in this area, I will hopefully be able to link to it so that you, too, can view the piece.

Then last week, after I spent the better part of the morning with Lisa, our favourite Canada Post Letter Carrier, I was interviewed for our local newspaper, The Whitewater Cobden Sun. After the owner of the paper read some of my favourite posts, she turned to me and said, "Let's just forget about the interview. You need your own column!" Now, that was a surprise and rather hilarious form my standpoint. Originally, she thought I could feature weekly articles about The Letter Writing Revolution but then we speculated that  people might get bored very quickly about letter writing only soooooooo........

The first installment of "Judicious Jabber" by Julie Keon will be in next week's paper. The second installment will be about letter writing and then after that.........your guess is as good as mine.

My dry spell is over and letters are leaving and arriving........we're back in business.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Day in The Life

I received these photos taken by Lisa, the Canada Post letter carrier, who I wrote about in Monday's post. She wanted to illustrate a typical wintry day delivering mail. These photos were taken on Monday. As I was cozy in my home writing about my day spent with Lisa, she was trudging through a blizzard with a bad head cold, getting the mail out as usual.

As I trudged through the snow on my way to the gym, I thought of Lisa trudging through the snow on her mail route. I could empathize and I hoped her customers were thinking of her as well.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Blessed Be the Letter Carrier~ Part 2

"We are mothers and fathers. And sons and daughters. Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and pride. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever."
~ US Postal Service Creed

You may recall my field trip in September 2010 when I accompanied a Canada Post Letter Carrier on her 16km route in the Glebe neighborhood of Ottawa. It was a glorious, sunny, autumn day and aside from the fact that I was severely out of shape (making the 14 km walk that day a challenge), the experience was very positive and I thought how wonderful this job would be. The catch was that if I was willing to experience the route in the fall, I had to commit to coming back in the winter months to experience the harsher side of delivering mail.

We made a plan that I would join Lisa on Thursday, February 24th. Let's just say that I couldn't have picked a better winter's day to do it although I really didn't get the true experience of some of the hardships of the mail carrier in the Canadian winter months. For the followers who live in sunnier climates, you may shudder at the thought of walking around in -10 degree Celsius (14 Degrees F) weather but we have had days this winter when the temperature dropped to -30 degrees Celsius which ends feeling more like -42 degrees Celsius with the windchill. On this particular day, we were blessed with a balmy -2 degrees Celsius and clear, dry sidewalks. I wore my running shoes and a couple of light layers. I even had to remove my hat as it was getting too warm after a while.
Lisa loading up her mail bags!

And on top of that, Lisa had a very light mail load compared to the rest of the week. For example, the day before, she had fourteen of the large grey, canvas mail bags containing six bundles of mail each and it took her over four hours to complete her mail route. On this day, she had only six canvas bags with each one containing only two bundles of mail. Although I slowed her down, we still managed to complete the route in just over two hours and I only walked about 10km (6 miles).

I did learn some of the interesting aspects of mail delivery in the winter compared to the warmer months. The most obvious one is the responsibility of the home owners to keep their walkways, steps and driveways clear so that the mail can be delivered safely. I was appalled at the conditions of some of the homes and how treacherous it was for Lisa and I to navigate the walkways. I took some photos of some of the better  examples of poor maintenance on the part of the home owners.
Lisa "Tsk! Tsk! Tsk-ing" this home owner's driveway.

This doesn't look treacherous at all (enter sarcasm)

Canada Post provides their mail carriers with warning cards to leave for their customers as a gentle reminder that their walkways/steps need to be cleared. They look like this:
Sorry, folks! Can't get it to rotate.
 This winter Lisa estimates that she has handed out about 500 warning cards. Lisa tells me that she always gives customers one day's grace after a significant snowfall to clear their walkways. Then she starts handing out the warning cards. If she feels that it is too dangerous to attempt, she will immediately suspend service to that point of call. For example, if she is unable to see the stairs due to snow or if they are covered in ice or if a customer has not cleared after a heavy accumulation, then a warning card will be left. Although Canada Post mail carriers are equipped with cleats, they do not always work as they can get compacted with snow and no longer catch the ice. Walking with cleats is very hard on the feet and knees, as well.Lisa has not had any major injuries this winter although she has fallen around twenty times. She visits her Chiropractor regularly in the winter.
Lisa re-enacting a slip and fall!

If you get your mail delivered to your door, check your property and make sure you have cleared and salted the areas that your mail carrier may walk on. Give yourself extra time in the morning to shovel before your leave for work as your mail will be delivered while you are away from home. And if you fail to clear your walkway and you are left a warning card, do not yell obscenities at your mail carrier. Take responsibility and show some respect.
One of Lisa's favourite customers who gives her a daily kiss!
 One more tip for those who receive mail delivery is to make sure your mail slot/box accommodates the type of mail you receive. Lisa finds it very frustrating when a 140-year old house still uses the original mail slot which was designed for smaller envelopes of the time. It wasn't expected to accomodate magazines, small packets, etc. I think these are simply oversights and something that is easy to resolve to prevent your mail from getting dented and bent. Some of Lisa's customers provide an alternate mail box in the winter to save her from having to come up their long driveways to their back entrance where they normally receive their mail.
This slot is too small for the mail that this household receives.

I'll give Lisa the last word for this post:
"Winter can be a frustrating time to deliver mail: 
harder to walk, cold temperatures, wet feet, having to stop customers mail, heavier clothing and even handling the mail with gloves on. That being said, it is our job and winter is part of living in Canada. I love my job and always know that spring is just around the corner."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Starting Early

In the early posts of The Letter Writing Revolution, I had attempted to hook up some of your children so that they could begin the wonderful experience of having a pen pal. It didn't pan out for a couple of reasons. One: I didn't know how to execute my plan and two: I don't think, at the time, those following TLWR had the children or the desire to participate. Maureen, over at Twig and Toadstool, has written a post to connect children for pen pal-ing. I know Maureen personally so I know you are in good hands. If you have children who want to write letters to children their age, head on over to Maureen's blog, leave a message with your children's names, ages and your email address and Maureen will contact you in a week or so with your match-up. Many of the Canadian and American kids really hope to be connected with a child in another part of the world, so if you are one of my international followers, consider this. Let's get children writing letters so they, too, can experience the joy and the delayed gratification involved in the process of writing and receiving a handwritten letter.

When I was a kid, letter writing was just a normal part of your activities. If you met a friend at summer camp, you kept in contact with them by writing and then mailing a letter. Yes, telephones existed in my childhood (I'm not a dinosaur!) but long distance phone calls were expensive and considered unnecessary when you are 11 years old. So we wrote letters. Stationery was easily accessible. You could by pads of the fancy stuff for very little and you could buy it anywhere: Woolworths, Woolco, Giant Tiger and even at Linda's Sundries shop right here in Cobden. Everyone, it seemed, sold stationery because everyone was writing letters.

I didn't get my own email address until my mid-20's when a friend in BC introduced it to me. She might has well have introduced me to crack cocaine. I was hooked immediately and high from the instantaneous connection I had with my friends in Ontario. I didn't own a computer so craved the times I could go over to her home and use her computer. I also started going into work on my days off to sit in my manager's office and "surf the net" sometimes for up to six hours straight. I couldn't get enough of both emailing and the copious amounts of information at my finger tips. It was exhilarating!!

But like any good "drug" addiction, the effects eventually wore off and emailing, although, a very important and crucial aspect of my communication with both personal and professional contacts,  lost it's pizazz. Hence the birth of The Letter Writing Revolution. The effects of writing, sending and receiving a letter have never worn off. I liken it to losing weight by lifestyle changes, exercise, healthy eating as opposed to losing weight by taking a magic pill and getting fast results. The former is far more satisfying and enduring.

"Every Generation Needs a New Revolution."
~ Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cool Stationery

I have always had a fascination with the humble snowflake. I mean snow is amazing except when you have to drive through a blizzard at night. Here in the Ottawa Valley, we tend to see a good amount of snow between December and March and although it gets tiresome by mid-February, it really is a beautiful thing. I often wonder what it must be like for those who grow up in parts of the world that never get snow. What is like when they move to Canada and experience their first winter?

Over Christmas, while shopping, I came across a book that was filled with microscopic photographs of snowflakes. It was unbelievable to see the detail of each snowflake and to see the variety of "species" of snowflakes. Who knew? I have a friend who loves snowflakes and so I had to get the book for her as a gift. Not long after, my sister introduced me to the photography of Ben Anderman, a local man who also is interested in photographing snowflakes among other things. He takes close-up shots of snowflakes on his woolen mittens. He creates notecards of his photographs which I have fallen in love with.

One of Ben's snowflake photographs!

If you have fallen in love with this interesting stationery, you can visit his website and purchase these and other notecards from him. I am always looking for unique ways to send a letter or a note.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Winner Is........

With only 3 entries to the Valentine's Day GIVEAWAY, I went to and the #2 was randomly selected which means:

is the WINNER of this special GIVEAWAY. You have won a $20 gift certificate lovingly given by Gary at Paper/Papier in Ottawa. Congratulations! You will receive your gift by mail momentarily.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy St. Valentine's Day and GIVEAWAY

In honour of this day that celebrates LOVE, I encourage you to read one of my first posts about Love Letters.  I hope that each of you is thankful for the love in your life whether it be with a spouse, child, parent, friend and/or pet. I would love to hear about the most memorable love letter you have written or received.

Since I am feeling the love today, I would love to give way a gift to one of you who leaves a comment addressing  the question above. Happy Valentine's Day....


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dry Spell

Prior to Christmas, I was cranking out several letters per week and joyfully stamping them and bringing them to our local post office to mail. I was also receiving, on average, a letter per day. I seem to be in a bit of a dry spell.

The dry spell is due to many factors: lack of desire over the holidays and during the passing of my grandmother, busy with work, keeping up with my blogs and lack of time to sit and write as household duties take precedence. Last week I gradually got back into it and the dry spell seems to be coming to a close.

I am wondering about YOU. Are you writing letters? Or are you just reading about writing letters? Have you been in a dry spell? Do you still feel motivated to write or has the novelty worn off? Have you gained some new pen pals or re-ignited your passion for letter writing?

I would love to hear from YOU! If you are a follower and you like this blog, then I would like to invite you to write me a letter and tell me about who you are and where you come from. Drop me a line and I will reply:
Julie Keon, P.O Box 533, Cobden, ON, K0J 1K0 Canada

Happy Writing!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Box of Letters

Eldon Keon was my paternal grandfather and he and my grandmother, Pearl Conway, married in June of 1940. Their first child was born in 1941 followed in successive years by three more children. My father, Stanley, was born third in line.

My grandparents on their wedding day
 My grandfather passed away in 1989 and my grandmother found herself living alone in their home that they moved to in the early 80's after their retirement. I am sure the loss of her love was enormous and I remember the sparkle was gone from her eyes for a long time after he was gone. Grandma continued to live in that house until just after her 90th birthday when she made a decision to move into a retirement home just around the corner from where she had been living on her own. It was almost two years exactly after this move that Grandma became unwell and by early November 2010, she was hospitalized.

When it became apparent that my sweet Grandmother likely wasn't going to live much longer, she told me that she had had a very good life. I asked her what the highlights were and she replied without hesitation, "Meeting Eldon." This was quickly followed by: "My four children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren." Her only request for Christmas was to be surrounded by family. She got her wish when my parents brought her home on December 27th to die peacefully and surrounded by loved ones. We imagined at the time of her passing, that she ran to Grandpa who had been patiently waiting for her for 22 years. I also had a sense that they were in the room with us watching us weep over Grandma's body knowing that this amazing Matriarch was gone.

And what is left? Odds and ends of a life that was neither filled with monetary wealth or extravagance. The grandchildren chose pieces of her jewelery to have something tangible to remember her by. But probably the most valuable thing that Grandma left behind was a box covered in pastel roses containing all of the letters she exchanged with my grandfather.
The box of letters
My grandparents lived apart at times in their marriage when my grandpa left to work in the mines and my grandma stayed home with the children until she joined him in 1944 in a small, mining community in the Ottawa Valley. There is one written by my Grandpa to my Grandma on April 22nd 1943 (the day of my father's birth).  Part of it reads:
"Dearest Pearl;
This evening I received a telegram from Laura saying you were the mother again of a big boy! I must first congratulate you! You have done it again! ..........................
............................Take good care of yourself and tell me who our new son looks like. 
Good night with all my love;

I am not sure what will become of these letters. I would like to read through them all to piece together their history and love story. And yet, I do not as I feel that perhaps this correspondence was not to be shared years later with extended family that didn't even exist when they were written. We did read a few letters to Grandma in her final days that Grandpa had written years earlier.....almost a lifetime ago when she was young and vibrant and full of life. We told her that he was waiting for her and she nodded knowingly.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And The Winner Is........

After visiting,  the #7 was randomly selected and so the winner is:


Congratulations to you! I do hope by winning this GIVEAWAY that you will be motivated to put pen to paper and to bring joy to friends and family by sending them some letters. I need you to email me at with some information, please:

1) Your snail mail address
2) Your favourite colour (s)
3) Tell me about yourself (likes/dislikes, classic or funky, etc.)
as I wish to personalize your gift as much as possible.

Your gift will be mailed out by Monday, February 7th.

Thank you to everyone who left comments! And thank you for reading and being inspired by  
The Letter Writing Revolution. Back to regular posts momentarily!

Happy Groundhog Day!