CATCHING UP ON SNAIL MAIL & E-MAIL (May 14/99)

A reader who occasionally writes via e-mail used a phrase I had never heard before: He referred to the postal service as “snail mail.” You will have to agree that a letter delivered by the post office is “snailish” compared to e-mail. Through the internet you can communicate instantly with people all over the world.

Most of the letters I receive electronically result from this column being posted on my website – which by the way is https://edwingcoleman.wordpress.com. I’ve given my website address again because readers often ask for copies of previous columns – that they “meant to save and forgot to.” Every column that has been published in this newspaper for at least the past two years can be found at my site; if you have access to a computer, log on and help yourself.

From my website columns I’ve received electronic mail from many areas of North America and as far away as Australia. I also receive many letters through the snail mail system, usually from Valley readers of this paper and occasionally from subscribers in other parts of Canada. Readers who write by e-mail slightly outnumber readers who use Canada Post; this doesn’t mean that computers outshine this newspaper when it comes to reaching the public. Most of the electronic mail comes readers who saw my website address in this column.

No matter if you e-mail or use snail mail, your letters are welcome. Occasionally I set letters aside, including those I print off from my e-mail box, and lose them in the pile of papers on my desk. I was guilty of doing this with a letter from John Williams of Sackville, N.B. Mr. Williams wrote over a month ago to tell me he enjoyed the nostalgia piece on the Dominion Atlantic Railway. Williams mentioned a two-volume book by Gary Ness – Canadian Pacific’s Dominion Atlantic Railway – which he thought railroad buffs would enjoy. Dr. Ness’ book is still available at local bookstores including the Box of Delights in Wolfville.

J. L. Harvie wrote earlier this spring about the part the Dominion Atlantic Railway played in his life when he was growing up in Hantsport. This was an interesting story; readers will enjoy Mr. Harvie’s look at life as it evolved around the railroad, which I plan to run in full in the next two or three weeks.

I mentioned receiving an e-mail letters from Australia. The writer was a former Valley resident who is writing a novel set here. She was interested in the infamous ice storm of two winters ago and its effect on the Annapolis Valley.

The writer also had a question about land grants in Nova Scotia after the Crimean War. My knowledge of these grants is … well, it amounts to nothing and I’m hoping a knowledgeable reader can help. Anybody know anything about land grants to veterans of the Crimean War?

Last week’s column was about Clarke’s history of the railway in Nova Scotia. In the column I said that I was unable to pin down an exact publication; none was given in the book but references indicated a possible publication date sometime in the 1920s. This may not be correct. Dr. Gary Ness tells me Clarke’s book may have been first published in 1916 and revised in later printings; this would account for the 1926 date given in the seniority list published in the book.

My thanks to Starr Williams who kindly gave me his copy of Clarke’s railway history. Many readers will remember Starr; he worked on the railway here in the 40s and 50s and operated an insurance business in Kentville. Starr now resides in Berwick and from my telephone conversations with him, he sounds like a young 82.

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