B.C. woman finally meets her Australian pen pal after nearly 60 years of friendship

B.C. woman finally meets her Australian pen pal after nearly 60 years of friendship
Nearly 60 years after first sending letters to each other across the Pacific Ocean, a B.C. woman has finally met her Australian pen pal in person.

Dolores Baily of Pitt Meadows hopped a plane to Sydney this month to meet Lyn Carpenter, who first corresponded with Baily after getting a Canadian address to write to in 1960.

After taking a bus to Carpenter’s home in Adelaide, the longtime friends shared their first long hug at the bus station Tuesday night.

“It’s just a formality, meeting in person,” Baily said on a patio in Adelaide the next day with Carpenter at her side.

“Don’t you feel like you’ve already known me?” Baily asked Carpenter, who nodded in agreement. “Because that’s how I feel about you.”

The pair became fast friends after starting their correspondence when they were both 10 years old, sharing interests in music and hobbies throughout their adolescence and into adulthood.

“We were both mad Beatles fans,” Carpenter said with a laugh. “We got through those teenage years together.”

Those early packages would sometimes include more than just letters, Baily said.

“We both used to sew, and we would send little fabric samples of things we were sewing at the time in the mail back and forth.”

A photo of Dolores Baily in her teenage years sent to her Australian pen pal Lyn Carpenter.

A photo of Lyn Carpenter in her teenage years sent to her B.C. pen pal Dolores Baily.

As the physical letters transformed through the years into emails and text messages, the women continued to share milestones: they’re both married with two children and have both become grandparents.

“When we had children, we did have a bit of a gap where we didn’t write,” Carpenter said. “I can’t remember who got it going again, but one of us must have realized two years was too long.”

The closest the pair got to meeting before was a few phone calls, which only uncovered more similarities, including their love of choir singing.

As Carpenter shows Baily the sights in Adelaide — including a Beatles memorial — they agree this is just one chapter in their continuing friendship, and will still write to each other as they plan their next reunion.

“We’re both committed to keeping this relationship going,” Baily said.

“She’s the friend who I’ve had the longest,” Carpenter said. “Sixty years is pretty special.”
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