The British Royal Air Force squadron leader who lost a sentimental stuffed toy bunny out the turret of a Second World War aircraft says there was “stunned silence” when he was told the prized possession had been found.
“The biggest sigh of relief in the world. I just couldn’t believe it. It was just one of those things,” said Jim Maginnis.
‘Bunny’ flew out of a Lancaster bomber over Burlington on Nov. 9 not long after Jim’s departure from Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton.
Jim lost his daughter Victoria’s good luck charm when he put it down between two guns in the plane’s turret to snap a picture during the flight.
The toy’s history is one built around the 58-year-old pilot, who has taken “Bunny” on a number of adventures over the years, including exotic holidays and some tours of duty.
The 25-year-old Maginnis family toy has been to Spain, Paris, Rome, Berlin and even Afghanistan in 2009 as Jim’s so-called “co-pilot.”
After a scan of flight data, Jim was able to determine Bunny was in Burlington and near a large area between Aldershot and QEW at Plains Road East.
In the hopes of sparking a movement to find Bunny, Victoria posted a picture of the toy on the Burlington Ontario Lost and Found Facebook page.
On Monday, a pair of HVAC workers found Bunny on the roof of CAMA Woodlands Long Term Care Home, according to a Facebook post from staff.
The elated Maginnis said the strangest part of the story is when he and Tors, Victoria’s nickname, were driving back to Toronto following the flight, the pair drove to Burlington to geotag the city for a future search.
While doing that, the duo actually made a quick turn into the Woodlands facility.
Jim said that’s how close they came to Bunny before going home.
Maginnis says the response to he and his daughter’s plight has been “fantastic” since the story went public.
“You know, even people who were nowhere near where Bunny could have been have been out looking and sending in suggestions, Tors has actually got a couple of surrogate bunnies through the post just to get to give her another cuddly toy.”
Even with little hope of finding Bunny, Victoria did make two weekend trips into Burlington with friends for a pair of searches, according to Jim.
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“The one interesting thing is that she’s discovered some beautiful countryside,” he said. “She said, ‘you know, once the spring comes in, once it was in the summer, next year, they’ll be like, we’re having picnics, we’re going for walks.’
“So that’s a good thing that has come out of it.”
Jim says the reunion will no doubt be a tearful one when Victoria makes the trip to pick Bunny up on Saturday.
When asked whether Bunny will be making a trip back to him in Europe, potentially through the mail, Jim said, “no.”
“I have been told that I will get supervised access in future. That’s going to be it. ”