A collection of cartoons, letters and a journal written on the front lines by a Canadian soldier during the First World War sold Thursday to a Toronto dealerfor $5,500.

The rare letters with first-hand accounts of war experiences were all but forgotten for 80 years before turning up in an estate sale in a Kingston auction house.

Donald Lake, an art and book dealer in Toronto, bought the collection, writtenby Lieut. Guy Rutter, who was an officer with the Fourth Canadian Mounted Rifles Regiment in France during the First World War.

"I had to buy it. It's a defining moment in Canadian history. It's very rare and old," he said in an interview with the Kingston Whig Standard.

A prolific scribe and a talented illustrater, Rutter writes in his correspondence to his mother about life in the trenches.

"We dined most luxuriously today on rum and coffee … mostly rum," he writes in one letter.

'We dined most luxuriously today on rum and coffee … mostly rum. After a couple of shots of this most delectable fluid, you can kick the hole out of a [doughnut] without any trouble.'-Lieut. Guy Rutter, in a letter about life on the front lines

"After a couple of shots of this most delectable fluid, you can kick the hole out of a [doughnut] without any trouble."

After the war, Rutter's mother had all his handwritten letters typed and bound in journals.

Rutter's daughter, Joan Cutlep, said he wrote these droll descriptions in part to ease his mother's worry.

"He knew his mother wouldn't have the slightest picture of what this was all about.… He was thinking more of her comfort than his own and trying to make light of a horrible situation," she told CBC Television.

Cutlep said she knew of the collection, but the family had lost track of it.

The letters and cartoons were gathering dust at the home of his son.

"How the collection ended up here at an auction house is a story in itself," said Ioanna Roumeliotis of Gordon's Auctions in Kingston.

A bachelor when he died, Rutter's son left his house in Milford, Ont., to his caregiver, Suzanne Pasternak.

She cleaned it out before selling it and stumbled upon the letters and drawings.

"I just sat down and started reading and looking at all of it and it was very special," Pasternak said.

Lake specializes in dealing in historic artifacts.