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About the RBC Letter

RBC Letter presented a Canadian perspective on subjects that ranged from self-help through management to history and philosophy. It is no longer published.

Last issue

The Blue Planet (February 2008): Water is unique, and no other substance is more important to our survival. Yet we continue to ignore the fact that clean, fresh water is in increasingly short supply over much of the world. Are we sunk? Not if we learn to treat water as a human right as well as a scarce resource…

Special Collection

Retrospective on the Environment: RBC Letter has been examining topics related to natural resources and the environment for decades. Why not take a walk through time, and see what we’ve been thinking about the environment since 1944.

Search the entire RBC Letter collection (1943 – 2008)

History of the RBC Letter

  • RBC Letter was born as The Royal Bank of Canada Monthly Letter, published April 1920 as a business publication to convey information and commentary on financial and economic matters.
  • In December 1943, it was transformed into a general interest letter, still known as the Royal Bank Monthly Letter. The Letter became an essay series that “tried to help people understand the world around them, and better understand their own lives.”
  • The December 1943 edition, on India, was reprinted by the United Kingdom Information Service and distributed throughout the British Commonwealth.
  • At its height, the distribution of the Letter was some 650,000 copies a month.
  • In 1980, it was renamed The Royal Bank Letter, and the name was streamlined in 1990 to Royal Bank Letter.

Royal Bank Letter 75th Anniversary Special Commemorative Issue, 1994

For more history of the Royal Bank Letter, take a look at the special commemorative issue of the Letter, published in 1994 to celebrate a triple anniversary: the 75th year since the founding of the Letter in 1920, its 50th year as a general interest publication, and the 125th anniversary of Royal Bank.

  • The RBC Letter has rarely been advertised or promoted. Its reputation and distribution grew by word of mouth.
  • The RBC Letter takes the form of one essay on one subject by one author. Although published by a financial institution, the RBC Letter seldom has a word to say about finance, but covers an eclectic range of topics such as education, business, science, Canadian culture, geography and history.
  • The Letter has been reprinted in publications around the world, translated into dozens of other languages, stored in public libraries, and used for years as a teaching aid in schools.
  • The back-catalogue of Royal Bank Letters (1943 to present) includes more than 500 issues.
  • In the past, the RBC Letter was mailed free of charge to subscribers worldwide, and was also available for pick up in branches.
  • Current issues of the RBC letter have been available on the internet since 1998.
  • In 2002, it was renamed the RBC Letter to reflect the new brand name of RBC Financial Group.