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B.C. couple finds war medals, photos in hidden ‘Jumanji treasure chest’

Port Moody, B.C. family trying to solve military mystery
Port Moody, B.C. family trying to solve military mystery

Kayla and Antonio Papalia are hoping you can help them solve a mystery with roots going back more than a century.

The couple moved into their home in the 900 block of Glenayre Drive in Port Moody, B.C., in December.

While doing some recent renovations, they discovered a hidden compartment under the stairs — inside, a trove of boxes.

Read more: ‘Love conquers all’: Vancouver man finds 80-year-old love letters in wall, returns to family

One wooden chest, with ornate engravings on the front and lid, particularly caught their eye.

“He said, ‘It was like you found the Jumanji treasure chest,'” Kayla told Global News.

“It was like a movie pretty much,” added Antonio.

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Inside the chest were photos, documents and medals from both World War One and World War Two.

“It became more and more apparent that this was not just somebody’s family history, it was also, I would say, part of Canadian history,” said Kayla.

Saskatoon woman, 96, reunited with long-lost love letters discovered in home renovation
Saskatoon woman, 96, reunited with long-lost love letters discovered in home renovation

The contents refer to two men.

Thomas McKee, who served in WWI, and Lawrence Thomas McKee, who served in WWII.

Items in the box reveal more about the younger man. Lawrence was born in Vancouver, attended John Oliver High School and served in the legendary 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.

It was that unit that dropped behind Nazi lines hours before the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, taking out crucial bridges and providing flanking support for the invasion.

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Other items in the box included a beret and sash, pennants reading Halifax and Petawawa, patches, newspaper clippings and numerous photos.

The Papalias say they’ve spoken with their neighbours about the home’s previous occupants, but haven’t come up with any promising leads.

Read more: Discarded First World War medals found at ReStore returned to Peterborough woman

The former occupants may have had a son named Connor who moved to Alberta, but the couple hasn’t been able to find him.

The couple says they’re hoping by sharing the images they’ll be able to reconnect the heirlooms with the McKee’s descendants.

“If somebody were to find something so valuable that basically traces back my family history, I would hope they would try to give it back to me,” said Kayla.

“We would definitely like to find the family to give them back their family history.”

-With files from Paul Johnston

Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia
Kayla and Antonio Papalia. Kayla and Antonio Papalia