Time Capsule Opened

Did you ever make a time capsule when you were a kid? Maybe you put some drawings or newspaper clippings in it, just to remind you of what things are like today. Well, one school found a perfectly preserved time capsule, and they just had to open it. What they found inside was absolutely fascinating! Want to see it? Let's get started!

Thompson Middle School

Thompson Middle School is located in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The school was aging and was due to be torn down. North Sydney is a smaller area in Canada, and was recently incorporated into the Greater Sydney area.

Image credits: Cape Breton Post

Image credits: Cape Breton Post

The middle school was initially built in 1949 as a high school, but the school board had recently decided to rebuild it, so the original building was demolished. This was sad, but the residents of North Sydney got excited about one potential thing during the demolition...

The Cornerstone

Many buildings built during the 1940s have time capsules in their cornerstones. It was a sort of tradition that has been passed down so that future generations can see what life was like when a building was actually being built.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Since this building was built in the 1940s, many people in the town had been speculating that there was a time capsule buried in there. As it turns out, they were right! They had to find it first though.

Where Was It?

When the building was being demolished, the workers eventually got to the cornerstone. They looked for anything resembling a time capsule inside the cornerstone but didn't find anything. It was a bit of a mystery because the building almost assuredly would have one.

Image credits: Cape Breton Post

Image credits: Cape Breton Post

As it turns out, they were looking in the wrong place. There was a clump of concrete right behind the cornerstone, and they found a mysterious metal box inside. This, of course, was the time capsule. What would they find inside?

Inspecting The Box

Joe Meaney is the president of the North Sydney Historical Society. It was his job to inspect the time capsule, which had been buried in the school for over 70 years. They also decided to keep the cornerstone for the town museum.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

He told the CBC, "We knew there was something there, but we didn't know exactly what it was, how big it was, or anything of that nature." They were about to open it up, but they decided to enlist a bit of help first.

The Thompsons

The school was actually named for A. Charles Thompson, who was the mayor of North Sydney from 1945-1955, which was the time period during which the school was built. As it turned out, one of Mayor Thompson's descendants still lived in the town.

Image credits: Cape Breton Post

Image credits: Cape Breton Post

His grandson, Chuck Thompson, was one of the people that was to help with the ceremony. His family had been in North Sydney for a long time. There was one other person that was going to be there to open the time capsule too. 

Alex Gilchrist

Alex Gilchrist was one of the longest-serving members of the faculty of the school. He had started there in 1957 and had taught and served as the principal. He had long since retired when the school was demolished in 2018.

Image credits: Chronicle Herald

Image credits: Chronicle Herald

He had witnessed the demolition and told the Chronicle Herald, “I happened to be there when they took the cornerstone out of the building." He had been at the school for so long, that people thought he might have an insight as to what was in the box. What did he say?

Gordie Howe?

Gilchrist thought that was pretty funny. He told reporters that, “It was suggested to me that maybe Gordie Howe’s rookie card might be in here, but I don’t think (so)". He did have some idea of what was hidden the box though.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

He went on to say that “I understand that there’s the newspaper of the day and some educational literature, or names of people — other than that I don’t know what else.”  There was one possible problem with the time capsule though.

Moisture

Many times, time capsules are not sealed properly and the items inside are destroyed due to moisture. Some were never sealed properly, to begin with. Others just have their sealant worn away by constant water exposure.

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

The town feared that this time capsule would have damaged contents too. The historical society went ahead with plans to open it anyway. They planned a ceremony so that the public could see its contents. Would they be disappointed?

The Ceremony

On October 11, 2018, the North Sydney Historical Society held a ceremony to open up the time capsule. Meaney, Gilchrist, and Thompson were all on hand to finally see what was in the mysterious metal box.

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

 For his part, Chuck Thompson was surprised that they actually found it. He said, “I was a naysayer, I said ‘Ah there won’t be anything in there,’ so I only found out just a few days ago that they found one...“I’m intrigued to think what in 1949 was of interest — no Tim Hortons cups or anything.”
It was finally time to see what was in there!

Contents

The first thing that they found in there was exactly what Alex Gilchrist had predicted. There was a newspaper of the day. This was fantastic news for the time capsule because if a newspaper survived, everything else was likely to be intact too!

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

Chuck Thompson said, “I was surprised that some of that stuff survived because apparently the history of all these time capsules is over that period of time they turn to mush — just from the moisture and the exposure — but everything is well preserved.” What did the newspaper say?

The Newspaper

The newspaper was the issue from the day that the cornerstone was laid. It said that the plan for the school was “to provide North Sydney with one of the finest high schools in eastern Canada.” There were other bits of news in there too.

Image credits: Cape Breton Post/Erin Pottie

Image credits: Cape Breton Post/Erin Pottie

One of them had to do with Chuck Thompson's grandfather. He said, "It's nice to see my grandfather's name. He's mentioned through all those letters in his role as the magistrate here, the mayor." There were other items inside the capsule too!

The Next Item

For his part, Joe Meaney was a bit worried too. He told SaltWire Nova Scotia that “I said ‘I’m not going to look at it, in case it’s mush...I didn’t even peek.” The next item they found was also one that would have been destroyed by moisture.

Image credits: Saltwire Nova Scotia - Cape Breton Post/Erin Pottie

Image credits: Saltwire Nova Scotia - Cape Breton Post/Erin Pottie

There were letters found in there, written to people in the future. One of them was from the local ladies auxiliary from the Canadian Legion. There were a few other letters, including one from the local Rotary club, and a few others. There were one or two other items too.

Yearbook

Although the school was officially opened in 1949, there was a yearbook from the same school district dated from 1948 in the time capsule as well. The junior class of students from that yearbook would be the first class of seniors in the following year.

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

They kept going through the time capsule, and they found just a few more items. They were really seeing a piece of local history as they opened the time capsule more and more. The next item didn't come as a surprise to anyone.

Stamps

The next item found in the time capsule was a set of stamps from the time period. They found stamps of several denominations: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, and 20 cents. It was also surprising that these survived as well as they did.

Image credits: Saltwire Nova Scotia - Cape Breton Post/Erin Pottie

Image credits: Saltwire Nova Scotia - Cape Breton Post/Erin Pottie

The stamps were of some interest because they were in such great shape, but also because they confirmed the date that the capsule was buried. They had almost reached the bottom of the time capsule. There was only one last thing to go.

Money

The last thing they found was a wallet that contained a bunch of bills from the time period. They found $1, $2, and $5 bills. There were also some coins found, in the $1 denomination, as well as some smaller denominations.

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

Image credits: CBC/Tom Ayers

The town was happy with their find and with the turnout. Meaney said, "It was a very nice crowd here today as compared to other things we've had. People just don't show up, so it was very nice to have the citizens of the town to attend." They also said that they intended to put the contents in a museum.

That's the story of what one town found in a time capsule. It was an interesting look into the past, and they gained some valuable historical perspective. The contents were great for the town museum too! If you enjoyed this story, please share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!

Sources: CBCSaltwireCape Breton PostChronicle Herald

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