Century-old message in a bottle found in Tofino

COURTENAY, B.C. — He says it’s the neatest thing he’s ever found.

A Courtenay man made the discovery of a lifetime when he came across a bottle containing a message dating all the way back to 1906.

Steve Thurber says he was walking along Schooner’s Cove in Tofino on Monday when he found the old bottle lying in the sand. It was in an area recently excavated as part of a Parks Canada invasive species restoration project.

The bottle was sealed and had a note inside.

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Thurber did not want to open or break the bottle for fear of damaging the letter inside, but he was able to make out through the glass that the note was dated September 29, 1906 and was signed by Earl Willard, who was sailing from San Francisco to Bellingham aboard the Steamer Rainier when he threw the bottle into the ocean, 76 hours into the voyage.

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It even lists Willard’s address in Bellingham, which is now the Railway museum.

“Maybe there was only one [bottle] that the guy sent out and I found it. It is like one in a billion chances,” says Thurber.

After researching online records, Thurber says his message in a bottle may be the oldest in the world – with the next oldest dating back to 1914.

“I guess it is a chance thing that you find something that somebody sent out into the water. I mean, even if it was a year later or ten years later, but a hundred years later is just unreal,” says Thurber.


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