‘A lot of history’: Winnipeg woman finds time capsule behind fireplace in her home

A Winnipeg woman doing maintenance work in her West End home discovered a treasure trove of artifacts from the previous owner of the home.

Ginger Gill had hired a contractor to do renovation work in her home on Sherburn Street, which included removing a fireplace. The contractor was able to find items behind the fireplace and set them aside for Gill.

The items included a photograph of a group of people, along with a postcard addressed to a ‘Mrs. M. Sweezey,’and an Eaton’s credit note addressed to a Mrs. Harris.

“I was really excited, I totally geeked out,” said Gill.

Gill brought the items to Christian Cassidy, a local historian, who was able to help put together information about the people who lived in the home.

A postcard addressed to Mary Sweezey found in the time capsule (CTV News Photo Jamie Dowsett).


A merchandise card from Eaton’s found in the time capsule. (CTV News Photo Jamie Dowsett)

Cassidy was able to determine the M. Sweezey was Mary Sweezey from old property records. He said it was unusual for her to be named on the title of the property due to the time, but was able to determine she was a widow, as her husband Joseph was killed in the First World War.

“Mary and her infant son Benjamin moved to Winnipeg and ended up in an apartment for a while, and then in 1923, ended up in the house, and she lived there until 1976,” Cassidy said. “So it was definitely Mary Sweezey who put the stuff behind the fireplace because nobody else lived there at the time.”

Cassidy said during his research, he found out Sweezey rented her home out to lodgers until her death in December 1976.

A group photo found in the time capsule (CTV News Photo Jamie Dowsett).Gill, who has lived in the home for 18 years, said it was interesting to learn this history of people who previously lived there.


“Going back in time, and kind of recreating someone’s story is really interesting,” she said.

Gill added, “It has brought a lot of enjoyment to people who have zero connection with the property, they’re just interested in the fact this is an old area of Winnipeg, lots of wartime houses, so there’s a lot of history.”

Gill’s plan is to put a small-time capsule back into the wall, with some of the pieces she discovered, along with other pieces of her own.

She is planning on putting an N-95 mask, some currency, a few trinkets for children, a small biography of herself and a coupon to her favourite garden centre.

Cassidy said it is cool a time capsule will be returning to the home.

“Hopefully, 100 years from now, when the next person does some renovations on the fireplace, they’ll find them and it’ll blow their mind,” he said.

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