Archives Canada reclaims mysterious Gen. Wolfe statue
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 1:29 PM ET
Last Updated: Sep 21, 2011 1:26 PM ET
Ottawa archivists say they believe a bronze statuette of 18th-century British general James Wolfe, allegedly stolen more than 60 years ago and returned under mysterious circumstances, did in fact belong to their collection.
It was in June this year when a man approached security at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa with a grocery bag containing the 25-centimetre-high statuette and a note claiming the statue had been stolen from Public Archives of Canada, now known as Library and Archives Canada.
Officials at Library and Archives Canada were baffled at the time, saying they weren't even sure they ever had such a statue in their collection.
Now officials say, based on interviews with retired former workers and records dating back 90 years, they believe the statuette was once held at the old Public Archives of Canada building on Sussex Drive.
The statue was one of four statues by the same artist the archives acquired, according to an acquisition paper dated 1914.
The archives had records of three of the statues going to other museums.
Library and Archives secretary general Fabien Lengellé said he believes the fourth, the one of General Wolfe, sat in a preservation room at the old building on Sussex Drive and that's likely where it was stolen.
"We had to go back in our own archives," said Lengellé. "And we had to look for a needle in a haystack."
The Lord Elgin Hotel on Wednesday returned the statue to Library and Archives Canada, where it will be authenticated.
While the mystery of where the statue came from has been solved, archivists and workers at the hotel are still wondering who stole the statue.
The man who approached security at the hotel on June 4 said he found the bag in a men's bathroom at the hotel. He then left before he could be questioned further.
The statuette of the British general who defeated the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was missing its sword, and the base was slightly damaged.
The note, dated May 22, 2011, requested the statue be returned to Public Archives of Canada. Anne Meelker says the statuette's worth has yet to be determined. Ashley Burke/CBC
"This statuette of Wolfe was stupidly stolen in the 1950s from the old building that then housed the Public Archives of Canada on Sussex Drive," the note read.
"It is returned through the charity of strangers because my conscience bothered me for a very long time, and I am now an old man. I very much regret this act of foolishness and apologize to the authorities for having deprived the Archives of this artefact."
Hotel director of sales and marketing Ann Meelker said it would likely remain a mystery.
"People still keep calling me and saying 'Where is it? What happened to it?" said Meelker. "I don't think we'll ever find out who took it and why he left it with us."
Hotel worker Sarah Kennedy hopes the man can now move on.
"For the gentleman who had it all this time can feel better about it going where it belongs," said Kennedy.
Latest Ottawa News Headlines
- 'Fireball' erupted during blaze on Pathway Private
- Police say the extensive damage caused by a large fire in Ottawa's Redwood neighbourhood early Tuesday morning may make it difficult to find out how it started. more »
- Ottawa jazz singer Kellylee Evans struck by lightning
- Local jazz singer Kellylee Evans, scheduled to perform at the Ottawa Jazz Festival this week, is recovering at home after her house was struck by lightning two weeks ago. more »
- South Ottawa bridge delay hard to 'swallow'
- A delay in construction for the new Jockvale Bridge has hit a feathery wall, the protected barn swallows nesting at the site. more »
- Ottawa craft beer breweries fuel Ontario boom
- LCBO saw its profits rise by four per cent and it thanked new stores and "efficiencies," but the largest rise in profits came from craft beer, including several Ottawa breweries. more »
Top News Headlines
- Senators call for 'zero tolerance' on harassment in RCMP
- The RCMP should amend its code of conduct to explicitly define and prohibit harassment, a Senate committee is recommending in a newly tabled report. more »
- Are e-cigarettes safe to puff?
- As electronic or e-cigarettes grow in popularity, some health advocates want them to be regulated. more »
- Most groups don't want return of Trudeau speaking fees
- Most of the 17 charitable and other organizations that have paid speaking fees to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during his time as an MP say they aren't interested in having their fees returned, despite Trudeau's offer on the weekend to reimburse any organization unhappy with his services. more »
- Google asks secret court to lift gag on surveillance
- Google is asking the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to lift its long-standing gag order on how often the company is asked to turn over data about its customers to the U.S. government. more »
- Ottawa craft beer breweries fuel Ontario boom
- Mike Fisher, Carrie Underwood selling Ottawa dream home
- Toronto's Dufferin Street named worst Ontario road again
- Ontario says no to Kettle Island interprovincial bridge
- The Spartan Race in 90 seconds
- Former McGuinty staffer grilled about gas plants
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford needs security, brother says
- Montreal mayor resigns amid corruption charges
- Woman charged after drink tossed at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford