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Snail Mail 101

If it has been a while since you have written a letter, or have never written a letter, here is the spot to get started.

Is it safe to send mail?

Statement on COVID-19 from Canada Post:
As we continue to serve Canadians across the country, Canada Post is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic….following the guidance of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which is the Government of Canada’s lead for COVID-19.
When it comes to items in the mail, we can advise that the PHAC and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to state that there is a very low risk regarding incoming mail items.” – News release, March 12, 2020

What do I write on?

Stationery Sets
You used to be able to find stationery sets of paper and matching envelopes in greeting card shops, art supply or department stores. These are harder to find these days, and there are fewer places to buy them.

We see more places carrying note card sets – which for some, makes letter writing less daunting
because there is less space to fill up. Once you get going and are a few letters in to your correspondence, you might find yourself running out of room!

And of course, you can order online…if you’re ready to go down the at rabbit hole! ;D

It doesn’t need to be fancy or bought from a specialty shop!
Yes, you can even use that ruled paper pad you might have nicked from work.

Drug stores and even grocery stores have a general “stationery/office supply section” that you can buy a note pad and envelopes. You can even buy pre-stamped envelopes (see stamps section below.) Check out your local Wal*Mart – I have seen quite a large selection of boxed Thank you cards, as well as note cards and box set of actual letter paper with matching envelopes.

You can get plain paper and dress it up with stickers, rubber stamps, drawings or washi tape.

Just write!

It’s always nice to share where you live, and sometimes, it’s perfect when you don’t have a lot of time but want to say hello and I’m thinking of you. You can find them in tourist places, but also good book, stationery, and museum stores.
Postcards are sent at the same postage as letters, see section on stamps below.

What should I write about?

The Basics…
It depends on who you are writing to but think of it as a conversation, most likely informal and friendly! Remember to ask them questions too so they have something to write back to.

For people you already know, catch them on what is going on in your life – your neighbourhood, the changing seasons, your cat.

New Pen Pal
If it is an introductory letter to a new pen pal, tell them about your interests – music, art, books, hobbies, the area you live – especially it if it is different to theirs, and why you like living there. We recommend waiting to get to know each other a little before broaching “heavier topics” like religion or politics.

Need More Ideas?
Check out the Resources page for things you can write about or tell your pen pal.

How do I address an envelope?

It goes without saying, that you need to address the envelope legibly so the post office can ensure it gets to the right destination. If your penmanship isn’t the best, BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS may be the easiest.

The postal code is very important as it is actually tied into the address and helps to get the mail directed properly. If you don’t know the postal code, you can look it up in two ways. Canada Post has its own lookup page here. Also, a secondary option is looking up the address in a search engine – many will provide the postal code when you see the results. However the second method is not 100%.


The current cost to send a standard letter (<30 g) in Canada is either:
$0.92if you buy in a booklet, coil, or pane
$1.07if you buy a single stamp
(about 5 sheets of paper)

However, when you purchase the stamp for a standard letter in Canada, there is no value ($) printed on it. Instead, there is a <P> in front of a maple leaf. <P> is for permanent postage which means that should the rate for postage increase, you can still use that stamp without having to buy stamps at nominal rates to make up the difference in the price.

If your letter is 30-50 g, the price is $1.30.
(about 9 sheets of paper)

For the USA:
$1.30 – < 30 g $1.94 – 30-50 g

For International:
$2.71 – < 30 g $3.88 – 30-50 g

GST is charged on stamp purchases

We will endeavour to keep the prices listed here up to date, but you can always check current postage rates here, where it will also give information about “standard sizes

Where can I buy stamps?
Surprisingly, you don’t always have to go to the post office!
However, there are many postal outlets operating in different locations such as drug stores (Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs, Rexall, Pharmasave) as well as 7-Elevens, and Copy Centres. Usually these locations have the latest stamp releases if you want something more unique to match your stationery, your or your recipients’ interests – space or hockey anyone?
To look up a postal outlet near you, click here.

You can also order online at Canada Post website, and there may be older issues still available.

But for a standard strip of 10 stamps, many stores like convenience or card stores will sell them at the check out.

Sticking stamps
All current postage is self-adhesive. However, if you do find some old gummed stamps, you can still use them but especially in this time of extra caution, recommend using a moist sponge or even glue instead licking them.
: P

Postage-paid envelopes
We do realise that not everyone is a stationery nerd with a stash of mail supplies on hand.
If you are one of these people, a possible solution are postage paid envelopes. You get a pack of 10 standard #10 (business size) envelope pre-stamped with Permanent Postage for delivery in Canada.

At the current rate, you end up paying $0.12 for each envelope.

There are currently two sets available with either animal themed “stamps” or floral theme.

Postage-paid Postcards
Canada Post also sells pre-stamped postcards that you can send anywhere in the world, i.e., at the price of an International Stamp of $2.71. Most of the images are taken from stamp issues, and some iconic Canadian scenes like a Mountie or totem pole. Some sold as singles or in sets. A good deal if you want to send a note overseas (basically the card is “free” but less so if you are sending within Canada or in the US as you can often find postcards for $1.

Check out the full collection here. Options may be more limited in retail outlets.

“Life is bearable when you have someone to write, and someone who writes you back. Even if it’s just one person.” ― Eunjin Jang

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