February 18, 2016 - 9:00 PM
ABBOTSFORD - A young woman who has kept a family photo album safe for over three years hopes to find its owners by making her discovery public.
“It’s falling apart. It’s really weathered but it has ten pages of photos. Since I’ve had it, I’ve kept it in a drawer so nothing could happen to them,” Kristen Gunther says. “I just put the photos on Facebook and hoped social media would do its thing,”
When Gunther, 22, flipped through the pages of the book she noticed Kamloops was written on the back of most of the photos, including the Kamloops Residential School. Douglas Lake was a second location named within the album. Several photos of what she thinks is a family are from 1939 and this most recent date in the book was in 1943.
All people in the black and white photos are First Nations, she says. There are two small newspaper clippings tucked in the back of the book which mention bareback horse rider Bud Spielman at a rodeo in Sisters, Oregon in 1946.
Names in the book are: Elsie McDougal, August McCouley, Gwen Ward, Angela, Phil, Berry, Naneen, Dinny, Sheila and Rossy.
Gunther’s father originally found the album, bound with black cardstock and string, around three years ago. She says her mother worked at Simpson Mini Storage and her dad would usually clean out the abandoned units.
“He could donate items, sell them or keep them,” Gunther says. “They were units that people couldn’t afford anymore or had been abandoned. It happened quite frequently."
When Gunther’s dad found the photo album, she says he recognized it contained a wealth of history and likely held deep meaning for its original owner. He chose to keep it protected and planned to find out who it belonged to. Unfortunately, she says, no one wrote down what unit it came from.
Gunther’s father died in 2013 and she recently found the album again after going through some of his old items.
While Gunther is happy to speak to those who identify the family members in the photos, she’s hoping to find out who specifically owned the album so she can return it to them. She says many have reached out to her and encouraged her to donate the album to a museum, but she says that’s not her choice.
"They’re not my photos to just donate; it’s not my family history," she says.
Here are some photos of the album, along with Gunther’s original Facebook post which has been shared nearly 700 times. If you are the owner, or know who might own it, contact Gunther by messaging her on Facebook.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
-This story was corrected at 8:20 a.m., February 19, 2016. Gunther's family did not own the storage unit although her mother worked there. This story was changed to reflect that fact.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016