Mystery Unfolding At Western University

The first letter that was found. Image: Mike Moffatt
The first letter that was found. Image: Mike Moffatt

There’s a terrific mystery in the library at the University of Western Ontario.

But it’s not a novel. It’s a trail of mysterious notes that have been left in the books in the university’s Weldon Library.

Mike Moffatt is an assistant professor of Business and Economics at Western. On March 9 he took a book called International Economics: Trade and Investment off the shelf and was surprised when an envelope fell out of its pages.

“I just thought it was a bookmark that the last person had left,” he told TKN. “As I went to put the book away, curiosity got the better of me and I opened up the envelope.”

Inside the envelope, he found a cryptic (mysterious) note and a small green plastic leaf.

He took a photo of it and posted it on Twitter, asking if anyone could help him figure out what the note said.

“I came to realize almost immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to figure this thing out on my own,” he said.

The tweet “went viral,” he said, and information started pouring in.

Three people came forward with four similar notes they had found in books in the Weldon Library.

One person, who doesn’t want to give his name, went to the library and started looking for letters. In less than two hours he found 11 more notes in books near where Moffatt had found his.

Another letter that was found. Image: Mike Moffatt
Another letter that was found. Image: Mike Moffatt

The notes each feature little symbols that could represent letters.

Each note is in an envelope. With each one is a little token of some sort. In some cases it’s a feather or a jewel. The note Moffatt found included a plastic leaf with two small splotches of paint on it.

Each of the notes has an illustration on it including a drawing of a table, a pillow, a vase, a drinking glass, an empty box and a picture frame or mirror.

Each note says on the back, which is a link to a website. However, there is nothing on the website.

The notes all seem to have been created on a computer and printed on a colour laser printer.

Although the notes look similar to a font (typeface) called Wingdings, Moffatt says the characters are from no typeface that exists. He says people have taken a lot of time trying to find the font and have not found it.

Weldon Library is big, with five floors and many, many books. Most of the notes have been found near the Economics section, but Moffatt believes there are likely more notes in other sections and on other floors.

Moffatt has posted the notes and all of the information he knows about them on a blog (online journal). He is asking other people to look at the information and try to solve the mystery.

Moffatt said the puzzle may be solved by a young person. “I could very well see kids coming up with things we (adults) wouldn’t have thought of,” he said. “Sometimes adults think really linearly (in a straight line). Kids could come up with something really creative. I think it’s going to take some really creative thinking to come up with the answer.”

Moffatt’s blog with pictures of all of the notes and more information is at

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
On his blog, Moffatt poses some theories, including that the notes could simply be part of an art project. What do you think the notes are for? Do you think the symbols on them “say” anything, or are they just nice pictures?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
Pretend you’re a detective. How would you go about solving this mystery?

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Typefaces
A typeface is a design or style of a font.

Create your own typeface (it could be English letters that are designed in a unique way or you can make up your own symbols or letters). Write a note in your own typeface and get one of your classmates to decode it.