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Shelburne County resident finally meets pen pal after 67 years of writing letters

Published on August 2, 2017

Irene Hagar holds up a photo of herself and Eileen Theissen who meet after nearly 70 years of being pen pals.

©AMY WOOLVETT

Hundreds of letters were exchanged for nearly 67 years but it wasn’t until recently that two pen pals were finally able to meet.

Irene Hagar from East Ragged Island, Shelburne County, now 78-years old, was only 11 or 12 when she first adopted Eileen Theissen from Saskatchewan as her pen pal.

Not only were the two the same age, but they shared the same June 22, 1939, birthday.

“She wanted a twin pen pal and I was it,” says Hagar.

 But their birthday wasn’t the only thing they would share over nearly seven decades years.

Their lives were shared with each other, from Hagar growing up on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and its seaside living, to Theissen’s experiences farming a 32,000-acre farm.

“We’ve written over the years and told about our families,” says Hagar.  “When we were married and when our babies were born.”

While they kept up a regular stream of conversation on paper in a world of electronics, they never met face to face.

But last year Hagar’s husband passed away and suddenly, with the uncertainty of life, she knew she needed to work on her own bucket list. And this included meeting Theissen.

“I’ve wanted to meet her for a long time,” she says.

In June, Hagar flew with her daughter to Saskatchewan to meet her pen pal. Despite never meeting before it wasn’t difficult to spot which one Theissen was.

“She was jumping up and down when she saw me at the airport,” laughs Hagar.

The trip was planned from June 17-23 so the two women could celebrate their 78th birthdays together.

“There was a potluck and birthday cake, children and grandchildren,” to join them in their celebration, says Hagar.

Hagar has loved having Theissen as her pen pal over the years.

“It’s like having a friend, it really is,” she says. “Now knowing her in person makes it even better.”