12 years later, Edmonton family reconnected with treasured photo album lost in Winnipeg

An Edmonton woman says she was shocked and delighted when a photo album filled with pictures of her family was found in Winnipeg after 12 years.

Album contained irreplaceable pictures of family, including late husband, says Edmonton's Michelle Mansell

Nikita Rosky posted photos of this album, which her family had for more than a decade, to her Facebook page in an effort to find the owner. She got a response within a few hours. (Nikita Rosky/Facebook)

An Edmonton woman says she was shocked and delighted to learn a photo album filled with priceless pictures of her family — including her late husband — had been found in Winnipeg, 12 years after it had gone missing.

Michelle Mansell said she received a message from a friend in Winnipeg on Monday after the friend spotted her face, and the faces of her children, on a Facebook post. The friend sent her a quick note and a link.

"And my first thought was, 'Holy crap, [she's] been hacked. I'm not clicking on that link,'" Mansell said, laughing.

Curious, Mansell checked her Facebook page, only to find herself tagged in a stranger's post, complete with photos of her kids. Again, she thought she had been targeted in an online hack.

In fact, Winnipegger Nikita Rosky had posted the photos in an effort to find their owner.

Social media luck

Rosky posted Monday that a lost photo album had been in her family's possession for a number of years. Her mother picked the album up in a north Winnipeg grocery store and tried to find the owner, but was unsuccessful, said Rosky.

"[We called the grocery store] and we had asked them to maybe go back through the tape or maybe see who had left it at that till," she said, but they were unable to figure it out.

"We had no idea how we would find those people based on just the photo album."

Rosky's mother decided to keep the album and put it away in a cupboard, and the family then forgot about it.

When Rosky came across the album again over the weekend at her mother's house, she decided to post some of the photos on Facebook, hoping this time, they would have more luck thanks to social media.

"This photo album was left at Sobeys Rivergrove … in Winnipeg, Manitoba, circa 10-15 years ago," Rosky posted online. "It was put into my mom's grocery bags back then and we tried to find the owners with no success. We are now taking to social media to try and find the family in the pictures!"

The post spread. About 12 hours later, Mansell was sent the link.

"I was so surprised," said Rosky. "Never in my life have I shared anything [on social media] and has got so much support and attention so quickly.

"It was a long shot."

Special anniversary

The album was filled with pictures of Mansell's family that she had gifted to her mother more than a decade earlier. Her mother was devastated when she lost the album, Mansell said.

"She didn't know where she had lost it," she said. "She owns a store [near Winnipeg] and she thought one of her customers had maybe accidentally thrown it away."

The album includes photos of Mansell, her two children and their father, who passed away four years ago on Nov. 21.

"We were all kind of reeling from the anniversary, which made it so much more surreal," Mansell said Wednesday.

Michelle Mansell said she was delighted when she discovered the photo album she had made for her mother had been found in Winnipeg. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

"I think some of these pictures, my kids won't even remember being taken … my kids are really going to enjoy seeing pictures of them and their dad.

"I don't even know that I have a lot of those pictures anymore."

Rosky said she is glad her family kept the photo album. "Being able to give that back to her and her children to see their dad, because I know how much my dad means to me … It's like an unexplainable feeling, a good feeling."

The album is being returned to Mansell's mother this week, and Mansell said she will be visiting Winnipeg in January. 

Mansell said she wanted to thank Rosky and her family.

"I'm an 'everything kind of happens for a reason' kind of person," said Mansell. "I think it's really beautiful that they didn't just toss it aside. They appreciated the fact that this photo album meant something to someone. 

"I can't thank her enough for just being a really great person."


Elisha Dacey

Freelance contributor

Elisha Dacey is a writer and former journalist who previously worked with CBC Manitoba. Her favourite place is outside in her backyard hammock with her dog, a good book and a wilting garden.