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

Teacher Tracy Dionne’s Grade 2 students at Willoughby Elementary wrote letters to adults about COVID-19. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley students offer adults COVID advice and encouragement

Willoughby Elementary Grade 2 students wrote letters to adults at the one-year mark of the pandemic

An artist’s rendering of what the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain station would look like at 166th Street in Surrey. (TransLink)
Langley School District has issued a COVID-19 notification for Lynn Fripps Elementary School. (Langley Schools)
COVID-19 exposure recorded at Langley elementary school and No Frills grocer

There are currently five local schools on exposure list

Brookswood Bobcats celebrated their B.C. championship victory at the Langley Events Centre. The Bobcats defeated Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats in the final of the B.C. high school senior girls AAA basketball championships in 2016. Past championship games are being replayed this month online by LEC. (File)
Langley Events Centre takes a look back at some classic basketball championship games

Matchups from past years will be rebroadcast online for free

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

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

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on October 27, 2020. The City of Vancouver says it has purchased a former hotel at a major thoroughfare that can house about 65 units to accommodate homeless people. A joint news release by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and city says 2075 Kingsway, Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver, will be ready for accommodation this November. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen also announced a $51.5 million Rapid Housing Initiative for Vancouver that is expected to create 135 new affordable homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former Vancouver hotel to be converted to 65 units for homeless people by the fall

The former Days Inn on Kingsway will be ready to house people in November

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Murder conviction upheld in case where Surrey mom was stabbed in front of her kids

Jury in 2017 found Tanpreet Kaur Athwal, aka Sonia Kaur Gill, guilty of first-degree murder in 2007 death of Amanpreet Bahia, 33

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read