Victoria students track down veteran's family, return WW1 medal
'I thought, ‘I hope they find the family.' I had no idea it was my family,' says great niece of veteran
Perseverance pays off. That's the the lesson Victoria high school students learned this month after they successfully completed a search for family members of a soldier who fought in the First World War.
Earlier this year, a man who found the medal brought it to Belmont Secondary School. The medal bore the name of an army private named George Doty.
Last week, a grateful Sharon Hoover picked up her great uncle's medal.
"I did see something on TV, and honestly it gave me chills and I thought, 'I hope they find the family.' I had no idea it was my family," Hoover told All Points West host Jason D'Souza.
Trudy Court, a library assistant at the school's Library Learning Commons, said the medal was found by a man who scraps cars. He reached out to the school for help.
The victory medal is from from the Great War, which began in 1914, and belonged to George Alexander Doty.
The name and initials "Private G. A. Doty" are marked on the edge of the medal along his regiment number, and an indication that he was with the 49th Canadian Infantry.
The students put out the call for information in November. Responses came in from across the country. Their first lead was from a genealogist in Ontario who compiled Doty's family tree.
"George Doty's dad had been previously married and had children and … through that side of the family we were able to get contact information for Sharon [Hoover's] side of the family and make contact with them," Court said.
The class presented Doty's medal to Hoover who was shocked to have a piece of her family returned to her.
"I was fine until she gave me the medal and then I couldn't talk, it just choked me up with sadness," Hoover said.
Doty died on Dec. 22, 1948.
Since the hunt for Doty's family began, the regiment numbers and names of other soldiers were given to students as a class project. Court said the students have connected with the men they're learning about.
"You can walk by a table and hear a group of boys talking about James, he was in the trench, Jim said they were in a blizzard for six days, and you would have no idea that these are soldiers from World War One that they're talking and trading facts about," Court said.
"We've really brought these people to life."
George Doty's medal was restored to its original condition and the appropriate ribbon was added to it before the class presented the artifact to Hoover.
"So the medal, now, actually looks as though it would have looked the day that George received it," Court said.
With files from the CBC's All Points West.