Chick’s letters


I came across this packed recycling bin a few months ago. It rested in front of a familiar house, one that produced some great and valuable finds way back in March. The tossing was a result of an estate clear out. The spot was quiet for many months until this night, a last hurrah of sorts that came a couple of weeks after an estate sale.


I rescued a lot of old photos and picture frames, as well as a beautifully framed accounting degree from 1949. I’ve since hung this in the hallway at my new place.


The most intriguing find though might have been this collection of letters. They were packed somewhat carelessly into an old SAQ (liquor commission) bag.


They all look to have been written in the early 1920s. Many feature great letterhead from different hotels, mostly in southern Ontario.

My mom read several of the letters and said they were a bit of a downer. The author is a young man working as a traveling salesman (for clothes, or textiles if I remember right) and the recipient is his new wife. Consistent themes seem to include loneliness, illness, and a lack of money. Here’s an example of one of the most clearly handwritten letters.



There must be at least 30 or so letters here, most of which are two to three pages long. A few are water damaged but most are in good shape.


There’s an occasional telegram mixed in with the letters. Interestingly enough the telegragh office (or whatever the “annex” would have been – I am not familiar with how telegrams worked!) was located at 69 Bernard West, just a couple of blocks from my old place. I’m not sure what’s there now, but it’s definitely not a telegraph office.

Two of the telegrams mention a “Lapidus” (or Lepidus, as spelled in a different message). Based on the wording I expect it was a place in Montreal where the wife would have been able to receive calls. Let us know in the comments if you know where this might have been!

One final thing of note about the telegrams is how often the name of the recipient was misspelled. Of the five I saw all but one had serious typos (the last name here definitely wasn’t “Lenin” or “Eugle”), and the name used seemed to alternate between maiden and married. I’m not sure why this would be, as the rest of the messages are more or less properly spelled, and you’d think that the married name would always be used after the fact. “Chick” wasn’t the guy’s name either, but perhaps it was a pet name – his real name was Jack.

While I think these letters are pretty cool I don’t really have the time to do anything with them. If one of you is looking for a project, send me an email and maybe we can work out a deal. I’ll let them go for a small “finder’s fee” of, let’s say 30$? Preference will be given to those who can pick them up.

6 thoughts on “Chick’s letters”

  1. Hi,

    Please please offer the letters to the Quebec Archives.

    Carol Ann in Whitehorse.

    1. I actually have a sort of jaded view of archives. Not that they’re bad, they’re very good to have obviously. However, I feel (perhaps wrongly) that most archives have so many things already, and that these letters would likely just end up collecting dust in their back room somewhere.

      The ideal for me here is to find someone local who wants to do something with the letters, such as catalogue and transcribe them. It could be a great project, and could bring them to life better than donating them to an archive would.

  2. I envy you the letters! I would love to take them but have hundreds of family letters to “manage” before they end up in a sack. I really enjoy reading about your finds!

  3. @Michael Black—Just in case Michael Black is reading this, it was good advice to keep the scavenged AC adapters in case they are needed. I was given an older laptop computer a few days ago, that was missing the AC adapter cord that connected to the block of the AC adapter. I thought my camera adapter would fit the laptop, but the slots were different, so I went down my cellar and the first one I grabbed fit perfectly, so it saved me from trying to buy a used one or a new one online.

    P.S. Martin, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

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