The Sudbury area community of Coniston has been officially twinned with a town in France named Barbatre.
The connection is a Coniston-born airman named Robert Forestell, who died defending the coastal French town in 1944. Historians from Barbatre started a Facebook profile for Forestell, with the hope of tracking down his family.
Forestell's great-nephew, Jason Marcon of Coniston, was caught by surprise.
"[When] you see your great uncle or, in my mother's case, your uncle, staring back at you — even though he's been deceased for almost 70 years — [it] makes you sit up and say 'I want to send a message and see who is this’."
The Mayor of Barbatre and various Greater Sudbury officials exchanged gifts Monday night.
“It's a pleasure for me to be here in Coniston,” said Guy Modot, the mayor of Barbatre, France. “Sorry, no don't speak English very well."
Modot presented Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk with a medal, while her gifts included a bilingual book detailing the re-greening of Sudbury.
"They're us and they're part of our history,” she said. “And you six-year-olds, you need to know about this. Because the farther we get away from those big wars … the more we're going to forget."
Further cultural exchanges are planned for the coming years.