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Lost wallet, found after 40 years, described as a ‘time capsule’


A wallet – lost 40 years ago at Toronto’s Eaton Centre – has finally been returned.

The pocketbook belongs to Vanessa Austin’s mother.

The Fergus, Ont. resident says she couldn’t believe it when a stranger from Detroit dropped it off at her office last month.

“It is absolutely a time capsule,” Austin said.

What the wallet contains is just as interesting as how it was found.

“Everything is so well preserved. And that's what got me going. Wow. It's incredible, I imagine that it wasn't exposed to any sun for a long time,” she said.

Inside are her mother’s immigration documents, a photo of Austin as a child, receipts, coupons for Canada’s Wonderland, and bank cards, including a TD Green Card.

As a young child, Vanessa Austin used to spend every weekend strolling through one of Canada's busiest malls with her family. It was during one of those visits to Toronto's Eaton Centre four decades ago that her mother's wallet disappeared, as shown in this handout image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO- *MANDATORY CREDIT*

For Austin, it brings back memories of her family’s early years in Canada after immigrating from El Salvador.

“You know, my mom having to go to the immigration office and all these things I didn't really know or understand because I was so young,” she explains.

Austin didn’t even know the wallet existed until it turned up at her work.

Her mom didn’t remember either – something Austin says she questioned her about.

“She's like, ‘Guys, it's been 40 years,’” Austin said, laughing.

An unlikely discovery

But where was this blast from the past all this time and who found it?

The man’s name is Andrew Medley, a private investigator from Detroit.

“I'm a corporate investigator and I was working with some of our clients. They had a suspected break-in at one of their locations and so I was in this off-site area. I was looking for signs of intrusion. I went up into the ceiling of this old unused bathroom,” Medley said.

That’s where he found the wallet – packed with documents and all.

Medley’s theory is, back in 1984, Austin’s mom likely dropped it. Then someone picked up, took any money inside, and tossed it away.

“I said this this seems like it's worth the effort to try to find the owner and return it,” Medley said.

Using the information in the wayward wallet, he tracked down Austin and dropped it off at her office.

“I drove there. I dropped it off to security,” Medley said. “I left my name and number, and then Vanessa contacted me shortly after that”

Now Austin says she intends to make sure this piece of family history doesn’t ever go missing again. Top Stories


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