Post Haste - WW Kinsey in Time Magazine

In the 7 August 1944 edition of Time Magazine, on the very last page there is an article about a letter sent by Walter William Kinsey.

The interest in this story is two-fold. The first is story about the letter itself. The second is how the letter then becomes a story in Time Magazine.

The story begins with an article on page 5 of the 13 July 1944 edition of the Bracebridge Gazette:

Letter Takes Over 56 Years Between Bracebridge and Port Sydney

Posted in Bracebridge in 1888, returns (undelivered) last week.

The Baron Munchausen seldom told a stranger story than this, but while skeptics doubt the veracity of the tales of the jovial old Baron there is absolutely no doubt as to the truth of the following:

On Thursday of last week, July 6th, in this year of Grace, one thousand nine hundred and forty-four, Mrs. Harold Pettit of Toronto (the former Miss Helen Kinsey of Bracebridge) called at the Gazette office bearing in her hand a missive which she had just received from the Bracebridge post office among the mail for her mother, Mrs. W. W. Kinsey. “ Take a look at this, Redmond” said she to the editor, who has been a next-door neighbor of her folks as long as she can remember, “ It looks like an old-time letter, among Mother’s mail,” said Helen, “and it was unopened when I got it but we have opened it since. It was a business letter my father wrote.”
The editor looked at the letter. It was dated March 19th, 1888. The envelope containing it had been printed upon its face “W. W. Kinsey, Bracebridge, Ontario” followed by a short description of Mr. Kinsey’s business. The letter was addressed to “Miss Eva Savage, Port Sydney, Ontario.” There are four postmarks on the envelope (which had been posted the day after the letter was written.) These postmarks are:- Bracebirdge, March 20th, 1888; Utterson, March 20th, 1888; Port Sydney, March 21st, 1888; and Port Sydney, July 5th, 1944.

On the front of the envelope there is written the word “Return” and arrow pointing to the printed name of the sender (Mr. Kinsey) and also the following:- “Note – This letter has never been delivered. D. Mc., P.M.

As Bracebridge and Port Sydney are both in Central Muskoka and - as the mail goes – only about twenty mile apart, this letter, in going from the County Town to the Mary Lake metropolis and returning, took from March 20th, 1888, until July 6th, 1944, a little mater of FIFTY-SIX YEARS, THREE MONTHS AND SIXTEEN DAYS. In other words, it is the same as if your copy of this (July 13th, 1944) issue of the Gazette were to be returned to the Gazette office – undelivered – on October 29th, A.D. 2000!

Doubtless Mr. W. W. Kinsey (a prominent business man and ex-mayor of Bracebridge) often wondered why Miss Eva Savage of Port Sydney had not answered his letter of March 19th, 1888. He will never know, for unfortunately Mr. Kinsey has been dead since 1917.

The stamp on the envelope is an orange-colored three-cent one – for it was posted long before Sir William Mulock, when Postmaster-General in the Laurier Government, first gave Canada “penny postage” whereby a letter went first-class mail for two cents.

The portrait on the stamp is that of Queen Victoria in her younger days – for though the great Queen was no longer youthful in 1888, the Canadian Government had not used a more recent picture on its postage stamps. Queen Victoria has been dead since 1901.

Needless to add, the present popular and efficient Postmaster of Port Sydney is not to blame – the letter had become mislaid long before his term of office began.

However, the story does not end there as the story continues in the 10 August 1944 edition of the Bracebridge Gazette:


In the July 13th issue of The Bracebridge Gazette appeared a news item telling that a business letter mailed in Bracebridge in 1888 by the late W. W. Kinsey, addressed to a Port Sydney lady, was returned, undelivered, over fifty-six years later and was received by Mrs. W. W. Kinsey, as Mr. Kinsey has been dead since 1917. That item, in more or less condensed form, has been seen the Gazette editor in two Toronto and two Montreal newspapers; and as one the latter public prints has marked the item “Canadian Press” it even was noted in “Time”, the famous news-weekly of continent-wide circulation. The news – which first appeared in The Bracebridge Gazette – was therefore considered very worthwhile by many leading publications.

Read EVERY page of the Gazette. That famous news-item appeared on an INSIDE-PAGE of this family newspaper.
The much condensed version appeared at the bottom of the last page in Time in the following manner:
Post Haste

In Bracebridge, Ontario, Mrs. W. W. Kinsey had returned to her through the mails an undelivered business letter which her late husband, who died in 1917, had written in 1888 to a young woman living 20 miles away.
In recent years, Time has posted its past editions online and so the article lives on through the magic of the internet.


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