Friday marked an emotional day for a Hants County, N.S., woman as she recovered a cherished piece of her family history — medals from both world wars belonging to her grandfather and great-grandfather.

Two weeks ago Heather Desveaux stumbled across a page on a British military forum. It described medals owned by a collector in Calgary.

"It was sort of like an out-of-body experience. I wasn't sure what I was reading and it was such a shock,” she said.

The description was of medals awarded to her great-grandfather George Parkyn, a veteran of a British Cavalry unit in the First World War, and her grandfather Tom, a sailor in the Second World War.

"The medals meant more than just the military service. They meant that family tie. It was a symbol of the time that they had missed with their own fathers,” she said.

Heather Desveaux

Heather Desveaux is celebrating the return of war medals that belonged to her grandfather and great-grandfather. (Candyce Sellers/CBC)

Tom and his younger brother grew up in an orphanage after Parkyn died just after the First World War. Years later, the Second World War separated Tom from his son.

A collector from Calgary had bought the medals and had gone to the forum to find more information.

Desveaux immediately recognized the medals she thought were still in her family. She said she knew she had to get the heirlooms back, so she called the collector.

“I had no idea. The last time I saw them was in my father's home about 15 years ago,” she said. “I was weepy and just emotional because I didn't know how he would react to this request."

The collector had no plan to sell the medals, but after hearing Desveaux's story he agreed to let her buy them back.

“Just gratitude and relief and joy,” she said.

Desveaux says she’s grateful the man in Calgary would part with such a rare find.

“I'm very happy," she said as she unwrapped the package containing the medals.

Desveaux says the unexpected find has rekindled her passion to find out more about the war heroes in her family.

"I'm honoured and I'm so proud of him... it's like they were meant to be, meant to be here."