Carroll, Queen's Square | July 3, 2018
If you’re sick of only connecting with your friends on social media, grab a group of your besties and try letterboxing! Letterboxing is a great activity that gets you out of the mall and into the great wide open. It can be done in a big group, with one or two people, or all by yourself if all your buds are working. So what exactly is it?
Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that mixes aspects of orienteering, art, and puzzle-solving – it’s kind of like a low-tech treasure hunt. All you need to participate in this activity is a rubber stamp and a logbook, both of which you can easily get from any dollar store. Letterboxers hide small, waterproof boxes in public places (like parks, libraries, or city squares) and then post the clues to finding the boxes on websites like Atlas Quest or Letterboxing North America. Each letterbox contains a log book, a stamp and an inkpad. Searchers follow the clues, find the letterbox, stamp their book with the stamp found in the letterbox, and then leave an impression of their own stamp in the letterbox’s logbook.
Sounds fun, right? So how did it become popular?
Letterboxing started in England in the 1850s when a national park guide left a bottle near a wetland with his business card it in it. He invited those that found the bottle to add their cards to it. Eventually, the bottle at the wetland became a destination point and people began leaving self-addressed stamped envelopes in the jar, hoping the next person to find it would return it to them in the mail (a “letterbox” is the British term for mailbox). Eventually, this morphed into the use of stamps and log books that we see today.
Letterboxing is so great because it’s super easy to do and doesn’t cost a lot of money. And unlike geocaching (which letterboxing often reminds people of), you don’t need a GPS or even a compass to participate. The clues can be straightforward or they can be hidden in a story. It’s a fun activity that you can do on family vacations too, as letterboxes are found all over the world.
There are at least 7 letterboxes in Cambridge, and about 100 more in the Waterloo Region and Guelph areas…Happy Letterboxing!