Nova Scotia

WW II medals found during home inspection in Halifax returned to sailor's family

A box of medals recently discovered in an attic during a home inspection in Halifax were returned to the Second World War veteran's daughter.

'This is just a little overwhelming to be a part of this, it really is,' says daughter of veteran

The medals were discovered in the attic of a Halifax home. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

He was looking for insulation. He found commendations.

Gary McKegney was at work last week in a Halifax attic doing a home inspection.

McKegney is a home energy adviser for Clean Foundation, an organization that helps people make their homes more energy efficient.

While looking up to see if there was insulation in the attic, he spotted something that caught his eye. From atop a door frame, he pulled down a box with a colourful ribbon sticking out of it.

McKegney opened the box and looked inside.

Gary McKegney shows where he found the medals. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

"And then that's when I said, 'Oh, those are actually legit medals,'" he said.

McKegney then showed the medals to homeowners Liesl Mulholland and her husband. They purchased the home last summer.

The box had been perched on the frame of a tiny door leading to the attic crawl space. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

"Deep down I thought, we've got to find who they belong to," Mulholland said.

The search began for the recipient of the medals, which recognized someone who volunteered to serve, and someone who served at least 28 days at sea during the war.

The house's original deed was signed by Jack and Mary Jane Durnford.

Jack was listed on the deed as a "Quarter Master," but there were limited other details online about his service.

Liesl Mulholland and her husband purchased the west-end Halifax home last year, not knowing the original owner had been a sailor who served in the Second World War. (Brett Ruskin /CBC)

His gravestone lists the day he married Mary Jane as Sept. 6, 1944.

According to the couples' individual obituaries, they had numerous children.

Jack and Mary Jane Durnford on their wedding day in 1944. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

One who still lives in Halifax is Jackie O'Hearon.

At the home, Mulholland presented O'Hearon with the medals.

"Oh my goodness, I feel so honoured," O'Hearon said.

"Just to know he was recognized, I don't know. He was young. And this is just a little overwhelming to be a part of this, it really is," she said, clutching the medals.

Mulholland, McKegney, and O'Hearon discuss the medals that brought them all together. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

There was one more surprise.

"My grandfather was in the Navy. He grew up in Halifax, and worked at the dockyard after the war for 35 or 40 years," McKegney said.

"They probably knew each other," O'Hearon said.



Brett Ruskin


Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.