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Life's Letters

Life’s Letters: Using Treasures to Discover & Write Family Legacy – A Memoir Writing Workshop present by Gertrude’s Writing Room

Featuring Carly Butler Verheyen, author of ‘Life’s Letter – One Woman’s Journey Retracing the Steps of Her Grandmother’s Love Letters, 67 years Later, and Vanessa Shields, Poet Laureate of Windsor, ON, author of ‘Thimbles’, a poetry collection about her grandmother’s life and love legacy.

A full-day memoir writing workshop for you!

Do you have a collection of old letters written by a family member? How about postcards, telegrams, labeled photographs, recipes or other written heirlooms that are holding secrets, stories and love legacies about your family? If so, this is the writing workshop for you!

In Life’s Letters: Using Treasures to Discover & Write Family Legacy – A Memoir Writing Workshop, authors Carly Butler Verheyen and Vanessa Shields will show you how to find the stories in your family treasures. When Carly discovered her grandmother’s love letters to her husband, and Vanessa found her grandmother’s thimbles, they instinctively knew that there were stories attached to these incredibly important pieces of family history. Through research, discussion, desire and courage, they were able to write a book about their family’s legacies based on the treasures they found.

In this full-day writing workshop, you will:


Share your treasures

  • Discover your desires and your abilities to find the stories attached to your treasures

  • Learn how to tell the stories about your treasures through writing about them

  • Learn how to trust your intuition and the magic of family legacy storytelling

  • Build your book by discovering how to brainstorm, outline and organize, research, and write the stories about your family history through your treasures



10AM – 4PM



$180.00 (payment plans available)

HOW TO PAY: e-transfer, debit, credit, cash. Please let Vanessa know if you require a payment plan.



Email Vanessa with the subject line: I’ve got a legacy! In the email, please include: full name, contact number, dietary restrictions, and payment choice.






About Carly...

Carly Butler Verheyen is an adventurer, dreamer, photographer and writer. She loves exploring new places, talking about feelings and capturing the gorgeousness of the world and the incredible people in it. She loves the power of creative expression and she has been told on many occasions that she has an old soul.


A few years ago, when she and her mother discovered 110 love letters that her grandmother wrote to her grandfather, she realized a story was brewing inside of her and that she would someday need to be written. The letters were dated from January to July of 1946. By following both her heart and her gut, just as her Grandmother did her whole life, Carly took a sabbatical from January to July of 2013 to retrace her grandmother’s steps as a British war bride. It truly was a journey within a journey. Carly moved to London, England and learned a about myself, her Grandmother, her faith, life and love. The finale to the journey was the incredible transatlantic voyage home on the Queen Mary II, just as her grandmother did 67 years earlier on the original ship. Her incredible journey resulted in her book, Life’s Letter.


Carly will share her letters, her adventure and her memoir-writing skills with us!


About Vanessa

In her latest collection of poetry entitled, Thimbles, Vanessa Shields writes about her Nonna, an Italian immigrant seamstress who was the family matriarch and teacher of love. Using treasures from her Nonna’s sewing life, sewing themes and threading the past and present together through poetry, Vanessa was able to discover and display stories about her Nonna’s life, about their life together, and about the grief of losing her Nonna’s in 2020. Vanessa spent as much time as she could with her Nonna, Maria, conducting interviews, doing research and paying attention to the way that grief and love coincide. Her memoir-style poetry is a container for her Nonna’s life and love legacy.

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