Calgary homeowner receives mysterious letter from descendant of man who built home in 1913

Click to play video: 'Mysterious letter links past and present for historic Calgary home' Mysterious letter links past and present for historic Calgary home
WATCH: A Calgary woman is preparing to meet face to face with a man from Wales who has a unique connection to her home. As Tracy Nagai reports, the two first became acquainted after a letter appeared in her mailbox – May 28, 2018

A Calgary woman is preparing for the meeting of a lifetime after receiving a mysterious letter in her mailbox last month.

“I was pretty curious and opened it up, because it was coming from Wales,” Tracy Slobodian said on Monday. “It actually had pictures on the outside of what looked to be my house.”

Inside was a handwritten letter from 68-year-old Bob Cook, explaining that his grandfather had built the house she’s been living in for the past nine years.

“It’s really fascinating to me because I’ve always been very curious as to who all lived here,” Slobodian said. “What their names were and to know a little bit about them.”

The home on 8 Avenue in Calgary’s northeast community of Renfrew was first built in 1913 by Henry Cook.

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Bob said his grandfather came to Canada after fighting in the Second Boer War and worked as a carpenter’s mate on a ship from Australia.

The Cook family in front of their home at 524 8 Avenue N.E.
The Cook family in front of their home at 524 8 Avenue N.E. Supplied by Bob Cook

“He was quite a chap really,” Bob said from his home in Wales. “My grandpa built that house, probably from a kit. There were a number of companies in America and Canada selling kit homes and I guess it was probably from Sears.”

Bob said his own father and aunt were born in the home and his father attended Stanley Jones School just down the road.

“My dad and my auntie would often talk about the good old days in Canada and Calgary,” he said.

Bob said his grandparents eventually ended up leaving Canada and returned to England when their children grew up.

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Slobodian and Cook have been exchanging emails since she received his letter and they’re now expected to meet face to face in June, when Cook travels to Calgary.

“It’s a big trip,” Cook said. “I think the hairs on the back of my neck are going to stand up and I’m going to have goosebumps.”

Slobodian, a long-time interior designer, admits she’s a little nervous about Cook’s reaction to the changes she’s made to the house.

“I hope he’s OK with it being turquoise with a yellow door,” she said.

“I’m really excited to show him how I’ve taken care of it and how I love it. “

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