PHOTOS: Metal-detecting group look for owner of nurse’s First World War medal found in Chilliwack

Medal from First World War belonging to a C. Whittle of Chilliwack. (Brandon Kuczynski)Medal from First World War belonging to a C. Whittle of Chilliwack. (Brandon Kuczynski)
Medal from First World War belonging to a C. Whittle of Chilliwack. (Brandon Kuczynski)Medal from First World War belonging to a C. Whittle of Chilliwack. (Brandon Kuczynski)

A group of metal detecting enthusiasts were over the moon last spring when they uncovered a nurse’s medal in an old farm field in Chilliwack.

Now they are hoping to put that piece of history from almost a century ago back into the hands of a surviving family member who still lives in Chilliwack.

Brandon Kuczynski of Langley, along with fiancée Bailey Andrichuk, and friend Brad Cappon of Chilliwack are The Dirt Hounds, a trio of metal detecting enthusiasts.

The group is hoping to soon meet up with Lois Maurer, 95, of Chilliwack, who is the niece of Carolyn Whittle, the medal recipient.

The three managed to dig up the metal disc in an old field, between two agricultural properties in Chilliwack last summer.

When it first came out of the dirt it looked like an old coin.

“I had no idea what it was at first,” Kuczynksi said. “I’d never seen anything like it.”

It was buried deep, probably a foot under the ground.

He’s only been at metal detecting for a couple of years, but says he has become thoroughly hooked with the outdoor hobby, and the artifacts that can sometimes come out of the dirt.

“It’s addicting especially when you find cool stuff like this.”

Handing over the long-lost keepsake to a family member was the group’s fondest hope with this historic artifact they unearthed. The family has since decided to donate the medal to the Chilliwack Museum for safekeeping, but they are still planning a distanced meeting for posterity.

It all started last April, when Kuczynski and the other Dirt Hounds were metal detecting in a farm field in Chilliwack. At one point the equipment started beeping faster as they dug down deeply to see what set it off.

In the past they have located lost gold rings, cellphones, and survey pins – but this was different.

The image of King George could be made out on one side, with a figure on horseback on on the other. The medal was a type of honour bestowed on volunteer nurses who served with the Voluntary Aid Detachment overseas, in the First World War.

These were volunteers who provided nursing care to convalescing soldiers. The name engraved on the side: C. Whittle.

“If the medal had been for someone fighting in the war, it would have had a regiment number on it,” he said.

When he looked up “C. Whittle” there were 500 people to search under that name.

That’s where ancestry researcher Marion Robinson comes in. The Mission resident contacted Kuczynski after hearing about the medal discovery on a television newscast.

She was intrigued to learn that they were looking for Whittle’s descendants, and her work managed to lead them to the right one.

It turns out the “C. Whittle” engraved on the medal stood for Carolyn Whittle, who was known as Carrie in her early life, according to Robinson’s research. According to the 1911 census, she lived with her mother and stepfather on Camp Slough Road, which is now known as Camp River Road. Robinson even tracked down her Chilliwack descendant in this case, as she has for many families.

She also found out that Carrie’s sister, Laura Whittle, married a Mr. Bessette of Chilliwack.

The records Robinson dug up show that Carrie Whittle went to the Virgin Islands from 1920 to 1929 to serve as Mother Noel Juanita in the Order of St Augustine. She went on by serving humanity and ended up running a major hospital in Colorado.

What drives Robinson to undertake these research projects, and reach out to help families this way?

“I do it because it is helpful to return the medal to the family and to contribute my ability to find people,” Robinson said. “I have provided numerous local families with an extended family tree that brings me into a deeper understanding of local history. There is so much to tell.”

RELATED: Council sides with seniors

Do you have something to add to thisstory, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The development plan for a proposed Willoughby building showing a possible library site. (Pollyco/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Township council says no to delay in considering Willoughby library

One councillor called for a system-wide review before making a decision

Langley sister Shannon Obando, 35, and Jen Spier, 29, started Hope in a Box, which features items from local small businesses, to fundraiser for non-profit Hope International. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley sisters Hope in a Box fundraiser: local products with global impact

All proceeds will benefit non-profit Hope International

Christian Burton is not a cold-weather kind of athlete, but he took the plunge anyway, getting dunked to help raise funds for Special Olympics. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley’s Christian Burton takes the plunge for Special Olympics

A freezing dip in a kiddie pool to raise money for athletes

A new Fraser Valley food hub in Abbotsford will include shared kitchen space that can be accessed by small and medium-sized businesses. (Stock photo by Robyn Wright from Pixabay)
Almost $2M to support new Fraser Valley food hub in Abbotsford

Project being developed by District of Mission and Mission Community Skills Centre

COVID-19 virus. (CDC photo)
School records 2nd COVID-19 alert this week, while employee at Langley grocer tests positive

Families of H.D. Stafford Middle were also notified on Monday

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read