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Century-old B.C. scrapbook a bit of a mystery as police seek owner’s family

Call it the Case of the Century-Old Scrapbook.

A brief social media post regarding a B.C. scrapbook from the early 1900s is turning into a fun genealogical hunt for some.

On Wednesday, the Vancouver Police Department went onto Facebook regarding the item and its colourful cover, saying it had been turned in to them.

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“It contains personal memories dating back to the early 1900s while the person was living in Summerland,” VPD said. “We’ve tried to locate the owner, but no luck.”

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If you recognize the book, you’re asked to contact the Vancouver Police Dept., so it can be returned.

As of Thursday afternoon, the post had 60 comments, with some linking the scrapbook to Lona Gartrella Williams Washington, who died in 2001.

Some replies mentioned the Summerland Museum and Archives, which Global News contacted.

Museum curator Petra Holler said, “This morning, we came in and we had messages from people on Instagram and Facebook, and people tagging us in posts, bringing it to our attention because, obviously, this is something that’s super interesting to us.”

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Holler said the scrapbook could be an incredible document and may contain information about life in early Summerland at that time.

Efforts are underway to make connections with Washington’s family, and time will tell if those are successful or not.

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“(Lona’s) obituary tells us that she had eight grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren as well,” said Holler.

“We shared it as well on our social media and people just picked up on it right away. We started getting more private messages from people who were taking it upon themselves to kind of sleuth and find answers.”

The book is still in police possession, but it could be a museum piece — a personal and easily relatable item that could be a possible window into daily life at the time.

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“The fact that this scrapbook has a personal connection, that it’s someone’s memories and they took the time to mark them down; it’s important to them,” said Holler, noting the museum has several personal journals in its possession.

“That’s really compelling.”

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As to what’s inside the scrapbook, that’s currently unknown. Being a scrapbook, the possibilities are endless.

Global News has reached out to Vancouver police for more information.

Holler noted that, “women, especially from that period, were often left out of history. Their points of view and experiences are really poorly documented from that time. So it would be wonderful to get her perspective as a young woman at that time in our town.”

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