Ottawa homeowners find message in jar from 1967 written by 2 little girls
Jar with notes found in fireplace.
Johan and Christine Voordouw reading notes.
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Friday, May 19, 2017 5:21PM EDT
Almost 50 years to the day, an Ottawa family has made a remarkable find just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday: two notes in a glass jar written by two little girls May 20, 1967. The girls, who are now women of course, lived in a house on Webster Avenue in Ottawa's Alta Vista neighborhood.
Last year, another family moved into that house on Webster Street and started renovating.
Moving a few bricks, they made a remarkable discovery and went on a mission to find the authors of those notes.
Renovations were going well in Johan and Christine Voordouw’s basement until they heard a weird "clink" of glass behind some bricks in this fireplace.
“I looked and it was this jar and it was all spider webs and dusty,” Christine Voordouw recalls, “then I could see the writing inside.”
“To the finder of this note,” Johan Voordouw reads.
One note was from 11-year-old Julie Gardner; the other from her 8-year-old sister Jane.
“We read the notes,” says Johan, “It talks about 1967 and Canada’s centennial and there's this beautiful happenstance here.”
It was an odd coincidence during this sesquicentennial that their notes would be found now.
So Christine went on a hunt to find the authors of the notes and posted a message on Facebook.
“It exploded,” laughs Christine. The message was shared about four thousand times and then Ken Gardner, Jane and Julie’s brother, contacted the Voordouws and the past became the present.
Today, one day and fifty years after those notes were written, 58-year-old Jane Gardner walked back into her childhood home to meet the new owners.
“It's kind of like a time warp for me,” Gardner said, “seeing these kids being in the same house, being 8 years old again.”
Jane doesn't remember hiding the notes but she does remember all the excitement about our Centennial: the parades, the costumes, Expo 67; an excitement that has waned for her, she says, over issues about Indigenous rights in Canada.
“I can’t do it in good conscience,” she says, “like when I was 8 and innocent.”
Still, this was a chance to re-visit those days and a chance to reach another generation of kids: the 3 Voordouw children; 2-year-old Ella, 4-year-old Oly and 6-year-old Millan, who was busy scripting her own note to hide in a jar in the fireplace.
“I’m six years old,” Millan writes, “It’s Canada’s 150th birthday.”
“Hopefully the next family when they come and decide to change up the basement, they'll find the next note,” Joan Voordouw says.