Mystery of Sask. time capsule photo solved in Windsor

A television story on the national news about an unidentified photograph found among the contents of a century-old time capsule in Saskatchewan has led to the mystery's man's identity — and his granddaughter.

'That's my grandfather!' Windsor, Ont., woman says

A television story about an unidentified photograph found in a century-old time capsule in Saskatchewan has led to the mystery's man's identity — and his granddaughter.

Provincial government officials said Tuesday that an old photograph, pulled from a time capsule a few months earlier, was a bit of a mystery. They thought he was likely a civil servant around 1909, when work began on the Saskatchewan legislative buildings.

The picture was in a sealed box that was contained artefacts of the day, but there was nothing to positively identify the man.

The mystery was quickly solved after the story was broadcast on the national news.

"I saw the picture and I thought 'That's my grandfather!'" Pat Malicki, from Windsor, Ontario, after she watched the news item.

It turns out the man in the photo is Franklin Joseph Robinson, who was indeed a senior official in the government of the day.

He was Saskatchewan's deputy minister of public works.

"It was quite exciting to track down who he was and his involvement in this building," Kevin Doherty, the current minister responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission, said Wednesday.

Part of the mystery of the photograph remains. It is not clear why Robinson's picture was included in the time capsule, while other figures of the day were not.

"We don't have an individual picture of the premier, ... or other dignitaries," Doherty noted, but Robinson was able to slip his photo into the tin box.

His granddaughter said she would not be surprised if he did it, for fun.

"It wouldn't surprise me in the least," she said.

While Saskatchewan's legislature officially opened in October 1912, the time capsule was deposited during construction.

The items were put in the capsule by the governor general at the time, Earl Grey, and then-premier Walter Scott.

Malicki, who works with the Windsor chapter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and is a historian, had all sorts of information about her relative.

Grandfather a land surveyor

She said Robinson was from St. Thomas, Ont., and moved west for work. He was a land surveyor by profession and worked for the government in various roles for a long time.

"He was also the one that did the survey for the province of Saskatchewan, for the boundaries. That's why the east and west boundaries are so straight," she laughed.

"At some point he became the deputy minister of public works and then when they decided to build the legislature building, they gave him the job of overseeing the construction."

Robinson died in 1918 when Malicki's father was just four-years-old. Malicki thinks he had a heart attack.

Malicki said she doesn't know how his picture ended up in the time capsule.

Malicki has visited Regina and the legislature that her grandfather helped build. She said it's great.

"I just wandered around and thought 'Oh, this is wonderful.' Not many people have a legacy like that."

There are plans to add another time capsule to a corner of the provincial legislature, to open in another 100 years.

And there has been talk of slipping in another photo of Robinson.


With files from The Canadian Press