As It Happens

That time As It Happens set up a radio reunion for a war-zone nurse and her parents

This episode of As It Happened: The Archive Edition is all about reunions. You'll hear how As It Happens helped connect a nurse working in a war zone with her parents and how a transatlantic friendship formed via message-in-a-bottle.

In 1976, former host Barbara Frum connected a nurse working in war-torn Lebanon with her parents

Former As It Happens co-hosts Barbara Frum and Alan Maitland in studio. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

This story was originally published July 24, 2020.

The theme for this episode of our summer series As It Happened: The Archive Edition is "Reunions."

We'll reconnect with some of our favourite stories from the As It Happens archives about people reconnecting.     

You'll meet a nurse working in a war zone who had an impromptu over-the-radio reunion with her parents, two friends in Montreal who befriended an amateur treasure hunter via message-in-a-bottle, and a social worker who helped an elderly woman retrace her extraordinary family history.

Here are some of the highlights from this episode.

Family ties

Each night on As It Happens, we try to get as close as possible to every story we cover and connect you to the people and places where the story is unfolding. 

On June 18, 1976, that was with a nurse working at an American University hospital in Beirut, Lebanon. It had been nearly impossible to get a reliable phone line into the war-torn country.

It was a breakthrough to finally get Mary Ann Oglia on the line. But it was an even bigger breakthrough when former host Barbara Frum was able to get the nurse's parents on the line as well — for an over-the-radio reunion.

In 1976, former host Barbara Frum managed to set-up an impromptu over-the-phone reunion with a nurse working in war-torn Lebanon and her American parents. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

Missing link

Sometimes a little intervention goes a long way to help people connect. Sometimes it's a radio show with an open phone line. And sometimes it's a thoughtful person with an open mind. 

When Florida social worker Yvonne Lee first met Yvonne Mary Henderson, it wasn't the fact that they shared a first name that caught her attention. It was Henderson's unbelievable stories.

The elderly woman was down-and-out and had no home. But she claimed to be a former spy and the jet-set daughter of a prominent British diplomat — with a wealthy brother still living in London. That's when most people tuned out. But Lee kept listening, and learned that most of Henderson's so-called fiction was fact.

In 1982, former host Elizabeth Gray spoke with Yvonne Lee about how she helped reunite Henderson with her brother.

Former As It Happens co-hosts Elizabeth Gray and Alan Maitland in studio. (CBC Archives)

Message in a bottle

Eight years had passed since Charlaine Dalpé and Claudia Garneau tossed a message in a bottle into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The idea that the bottle would wash up on some distant shore became a distant memory.

But hope floats. And sure enough, the bottle washed up on a beach in Ireland — which is where amateur treasure hunter Oisin Millea spotted it.

In 2012, As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with 10-year-old Oisin Millea — along with Charlaine Dalpé and Claudia Garneau — about their unlikely transatlantic connection. 

Message in a bottle

10 years ago
Duration 1:28
Bottled message sent from Quebec's Gaspé region arrives in Ireland after an 8-year journey.

You can hear these stories and more on the "Reunions" episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition