I first heard about letterboxing a couple of weeks ago when I was up in Powell River visiting my folks. The Powell River public library started hiding letterboxes around town in May this year and encourages people to participate in what is essentially a sort of snail mail treasure hunt.

Letterboxing is an old tradition started in England in the mid-1800s. Travellers would leave their calling cards in remote locations to show that they had been there. The Smithsonian magazine brought this old tradition to light in the late 90s and it appears that it is now catching on in communities around the world.

I don’t know how much this renewed tradition varies from town to town but in Powell River this is how it works. You choose a rubber stamp to be your own personal “calling card”, if you will. You could make your own out of lino or even out of a potato (remember making those in school?) or you could stamp some random found object I suppose (a leaf maybe?) or you could buy a stamp ready made from a craft store. Letterboxes are then hidden around town, each containing a stamp pad, a rubber stamp, a notebook and a pencil. The Powell River library provides clues to the letterbox’s whereabouts on their website and when you find one of them, you stamp your own personal notebook with the stamp you find in the letterbox and you leave your stamp in the notebook that you find in the letterbox to show you’ve been there.

I can see this being a particularly fun activity for kids in remote communities. Kassidy, I’m looking at you. 🙂