Saturday, July 5, 2014

I am the letterbox thief

The Grande Hermine {The Big Weasel} Jordan Harbour, Jordan Station, Ontario
Warning: spoiler photo at the end of this post.

Before I ever started letterboxing, another local boxer had done great work and had (has) marvelous boxes planted all over the province.  One day, without notice, she deleted all the clues, deleted the comments, and retired all of her boxes.  Why? I'll never know.  Those were some of my favourite boxes, they contained the amazing history of letterboxing in Ontario.  And now they're gone.  Poof.  This happened over a year ago, so I'm not sure why I'm whinging about it now...

Except now I've done the unthinkable.  I've taken someone else's letterbox.  On purpose.  With intent. Not to relocate because of danger, not to repair due to damage.  To keep. 
My log from 2010.

This particular box had special meaning to me; when I found it, where I found it, who I found it with. I was gutted to think it was gone when that letterboxer deleted the clues and retired the whole lot.  But I had this niggling suspicion that told me that there was no way she had physically pulled so many actual boxes given their geographic spread.  I pretty much knew that these boxes still existed.  I just had no way to find them, or even re-find the ones I had already had logged.

Nonetheless, after moving back to Burlington, I had decided I was going to replace the one box.  It's the perfect location, the perfect theme, and it's perfect to stop at if you're traveling along the QEW back/forth from Canada/US.  So I created a box and headed out today to replant with the hopes that even without the clue, I'd find the box.

I found it.  In perfect condition.  I took it and literally planted mine in its place.  I have it, it's mine.  The log is dry and only half filled...  Its clue is gone and the owner retired it.  This baffles me.  And those lovely boxes are still out there, lonely and unloved - abandoned.  Does anyone keep old clues?  I never have, and now I'm sad because I'll never be able to retrace my steps to some of these now lost gems.

Have I committed a letterboxing crime? I'm not sure.  I plan to show people this box and its contents, I plan to maintain my new replacement box (or at least not destroy it for future finders should I decide to retire from boxing...).

I hope you and future generations of letterboxers enjoy my replacement box.  If you ever want to see the old one, please let me know...

In with the new...


  1. It seems to me that you have left out the most important fact....whether or not you did at any time attempt to contact the placer? Since you haven't mentioned it can we assume you have not? And if so why not?

  2. I have in the past, with no response, and I from AQ that they have not logged in for at least six months. Have I tried again since I took the box yesterday? No, at least not yet. But I don't know if I will...

  3. How do you know that she hasn't decided to just cut ties with AQ and listed her clues somewhere else? People do that. All this being's not your place to take the box regardless of whether the clues are elsewhere or not. You don't know the reasons for the clues being deleted. And it's not your business to's the planter's business. You just decided to make up your own rules. It may be sad that this has been the fate of the box but it's not your place to physically steal it and keep it, especially if you never got a response from them. What if everyone started doing that?....just taking boxes they feel are abandoned? What if the planter changes their mind and decides to reactivate the clues? Maybe they had to leave boxing for an extended period of time for personal reasons? You have no information so you should have left the box alone.

  4. Perhaps they're listed somewhere else; but they're not at LbNA (in fact, the clues were deleted there too it seems) and none of her boxes have cross-finds like almost all Ontario boxers log, so I suspect that isn't the case.

    You're right, I don't know why the clues were deleted, that is the planter's business. You ask in essence, what if everyone started taking boxes that were deleted and retired but are still present? Well, what are the boxes at that point? If they are not geocaches, or listed somewhere to find, I suspect that they are litter. Eventually, a non-letterboxer would find it and throw it away. In my case, I took it, plan on making it available to others, and posted that I did it so for the world to see.

    If, as you've suggested might be the case, the planter changes their mind and wants to reactivate the box, I would be more than happy to either give the box to them or replant it in its original location myself.

    It's not entirely accurate that I have "no information" about this. I know that the clues were deleted and the boxes marked as "retired" well over a year ago. No other comments were given by the planter to suggest that this is temporary or that the boxes were to be used for something else. No finds are in the box after that date.

    I think there's a difference from a merely abandoned box and what has happened with this one. A box that has been merely abandoned can be taken care of by local boxers. In Ontario this happens and I'm proud of our community of how well we take care of these lonely boxes. The log books can be replaced or added to, the boxes cleaned, clues updated by commentors who note that the terrain etc has changed... But in the case of these particular boxes, the clues and all the comments were outright deleted. Other than by the faulty memories of previous finders, these have been left to be thrown out by the first non-boxer finders.

    I acknowledge that this is a grey area. I did after all identify myself as a thief. I just took the box the box. You're right, I did make up my own rules (to a game which has none). I plan to make the box available to the benefit of the local boxing community and return it to the owner if they ask. You are free to tell me what I "should" do, but I can't see how anyone has been prejudiced by this.

  5. Interesting that you haven't posted this on an AQ board. Yes, I did a search of your posts. Probably because you know that you would get flamed from here to there and back again several times over. You had no business taking the original box. Also interesting that if it was so important to you, you never mentioned it in your "replacement" box clues. Or about you taking the box....because you know you shouldn't have taken it and you know someone would have complained.

    This blog post was pointed out to a group of people and everyone agreed that you should not have taken that box. I would imagine that if you posted what you did on AQ that sentiment would be repeated many times over.

    You know most blogs are really not read by that many people and this was a back door way of being able to say you didn't keep it a secret. The fact that most blogs don't have a ton of readers is not a reflection on the blog/s. It's just a fact. Certainly not equal to posting it on AQ and really admitting what you did.....because you know you should not have done it.

    Yeah, I am free to tell you what you should have done.................NOTHING.......left the box alone.....left it where it was....because it's not yours to do anything with. We can't control what happens to boxes after they are planted and sadly, many of them, are going to wind up deserted and abandoned. That still doesn't give us the right to go around taking them. Where do we draw the line? Which ones should we take and which ones should we leave? we take NONE.

    You know perfectly that though this's not a game.....may not have rules per se there are things one does not do...things that are wrong......and stealing that box so you could plant yours is one of those things.

    For all you know this person may plan on eventually pulling all their boxes. But you wouldn't know that...........................because you never communicated with them in any way. You just took it upon yourself to take the box. What if we all just take it upon ourselves to remove boxes each of us feels are abandoned?

    It's just not your decision to make. It's not your property to take.

  6. Wow. I'm sad that this is the tone you'd take with someone that you've met a few times. Thank you for your comments. I will take them under advisement.

  7. Oh hey guys.. I was just trolling and saw this rediculous dialogue. So why not join in. This is all taken out of context. The exaggeration of being a thief was shared as a joke and I have no doubt that everyone in Ontario smiled at it because ALL of us know about this folk lore story of this box ( or the others like it). We are a small group and each of us, while hours and hours apart really knows the scope of letterboxing. So to this I say grab the pitch forks and burn bumble alive because the god damn world is falling apart because an abandoned box was salvaged. I agree that you can't just go around moving boxes and so forth but anyone who knows bumble knows that she boxes with the utmost integrity so this is not an argument of her willy nilly taking boxes like the frigen grinch takes presents. It is the context of one box.

    So a few thoughts:
    1. Screw message boards and topics like these, those who start shit on those boards and those that rally a gang of supporters are merely letterboxing bullies. I work with 12 year old girls and ironically they use the same approach to shame their peers. Hmm..
    2. I appreciate that some people go the traditional route with letterboxing. Sure you like things as they "should be" but not us, Ontario is innovative ,we like to explore new ideas and new ways of boxing. It is part of the reason why we have some of the most kick ass boxes I have seen in my travels. So to those who use traditional ideology and feel that rules are rules but they aren't. I didn't get into letterboxing so following rules. I got into it to be creative. And if you are who I think you are, moon than I have had this epic battle with you before and perhaps I am taking it personal but back off my fellow letterboxer and learn to ask questions instead of bully and jump the gun, it is honestly so exhausting to counteract some of your comments. I don't know if you mean to be mean, or if you just believe in the tradition of letterboxing so much you are compelled but it is getting old. I battled you all the way through Box On and I don't want to see a friend have to do the same.

    Also, if the person comes back they abandoned their boxes so too bad. It's not like I can go out into the forest and pee on everything and mark it and come back 2 years later and claim that that stump is still mine. Ideally she would have asked people to take over it. She didn't and wiped everything clean so alas... fair game.

    Lastly, I am wondering if we can make things a thing. Knowing that there are a number of letterboxers from across ontario that have publicly or obviously given up the game ( I can think of a few where we know the story and they are gone), what if we made an effort to look for those boxes over the summer and brought them to box-on and we could start a box-on tradition of " fallen soldiers of letterboxing" where we are able to preserve some of our history by being able to stamp those stamps. So almost repurpose them into table toppers?

    But mostly, Blog etiquette is not to be a jerk on message boards but to private message the person.

    My bold two cents. I am off to write an atlas quest board posts because I hear they are like the ultimate in ethical decisions. Sigh. Uncool.

  8. These former boxers have cut all ties with the letterboxing community due to the loss of several of their boxes years ago. Once the boxes were retired and the clues deleted on both AQ and LBNA they became trash. Simple as that.


  9. Third attempt to add a comment...I keep losing them... aren't a great 'thief' if you are posting it on the internet for all to see...I think that is how people win those Darwin awards ;)

    Not sure what all the fuss is have rescued a box that was long abandoned, and there is no trace of the old letterboxer and no clues available for anyone else to be able to find it. Likely would be thrown out otherwise by some muggle.

    I think we should start a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build a museum here in Ontario for all the abandoned boxes that we come across (keeping it north of the border to avoid an international crisis!). We can get a celebrity to be our spokesperson - Justin Bieber is in need of some good press, although William Shatner would be way hipper - and then we can have them do public service announcements and then we can make a movie and we can write a book and we can sell calendars with photos of the old boxes....and...and...

    OR...we can all chillax and be happy that a dedicated and loyal letterboxer cared enough to rescue the box and to offer it others to see, instead of leaving it out there where no one (that cared anyways) would ever find it. <- I prefer this option and look forward to seeing it some day.


    Keep calm and Box ON!!

  10. I know the history and details of the boxes and the letterboxer in question. I'm not the least bit distressed about the removal of the box. It was, as Jiggs pointed out, just litter in these circumstances.

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that someday the boxer decides to retrieve her box. She would find the new one in exactly the same spot, and could contact Bumble at that point.