It’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters – J.M. Laurence. I learned this lesson about five years ago. I had just come back from the University of Toronto for spring break to visit my parents and to help with the new house. My parents were tearing down my grandpa’s old house. He passed away six years ago. My parents had decided to build a new summer home on the property. The property is on Front Street, close to the Fraser River. Me and my grandpa used to go down to play at the Quay all the time. My great grandfather Alistair Brailsford bought the house when it was built after the Great Fire destroyed the Brackman & Ker’s warehouse.
One cloudy Tuesday morning we were working on the house when my shovel hit something hard. When I dug it up I saw that it was a small wooden box with the initials CB engraved in it. It must have belonged to my great grandfather, Carlton Brailsford. The lock was easy to crack, I just remembered when I was little my grandfather used to talk about the Great Fire all the time, he made the date of the Great Fire his passcode for everything. I looked it up and put in 1-8-9-8, and the locked clicked open. Inside the box, I found three things; a single strand of singed hay, a sample of dirt, and a ripped strip of paper.
I was getting a degree in forensic sciences, but I hadn’t had much experience. I saw it as an opportunity to investigate. I ran some tests on the hay and I found traces of lighter fluid. I thought I remembered my Grandpa telling me about the origins of the Great Fire, I looked it up and sure enough the origin of the Great Fire was the dry hay stored in the Brackman & Ker’s warehouse. The words on the ripped strip of paper were too hard to make out, I could only see two letters, L and t, but the dirt sample brought me back to when I was young, Grandpa Carlton was a geologist so he would always bring me out to Poplar Island to collect dirt samples. Walk along till you get to the foot-shaped boulder, turn left, go to the stump with the baby tree growing out of it and walk three steps.
I rented a canoe and paddled all the way out to Poplar Island, past the foot-shaped boulder, took a left, and walked three steps past the stump (by now there is quite a big tree growing out of that stump). I began digging and soon I found another box with the engraving CB. This time, inside the box, I found a small democratic pin. As I was walking home I figured where the next box was.
Alvin S. Moody was a democratic politician. Moody Park was named after Alvin S. Moody. My Grandpa and I used to play explorers all the time there, I knew exactly where to dig. On the corner of Tenth Street and Sixth Avenue there is a corner with an amazing tree built for climbing. Once I dug it up and unlocked it I found a note addressed to me, somehow my Grandpa knew I could figure all this out. The letter said…
Our family has something very important. I can’t risk putting it down on paper but you know where to find the other half of the strip. Goodbye Tara. I’m sure you need some answers; my dad was being followed and watched because he had something very important. He pretended to hide it in Brackman & Ker’s warehouse and burned the warehouse down so nobody stole it. He didn’t mean for the fire to spread so fast. He lived with that regret, he loved our city. I hope you don’t make the same mistakes he did. I’m proud of you.
I didn’t know how to piece this together; I didn’t know where to find the other half of the strip. Then I read it again. Why would he say goodbye in the middle of a letter? It made no sense, but then I remembered when my family moved to Abbottsford when I was 6. He gave me a teddy bear when we said goodbye that I still have today.
It took some digging in our storage unit but I finally found the old purple teddy bear that smelled faintly of sour milk. I felt something in his back. When the box was opened, I found the other half of the strip, once I put it together I saw they were coordinates it said Latitude: 49.21539 Longitude: -122.909422. I took out my phone and it led me all the way to Queens Park. When I got there, I started digging.
Once I had dug for 15 minutes I had the new box in my hands. I noticed that the pattern was slightly different and when I flipped it over I saw that this time it was engraved with my initials, TB. When it was opened, I saw the most amazing thing. It was probably the most valuable thing I had ever seen, probably the most valuable I would see for the rest of my life. It was then I realized something, my ancestors were corrupt, they would ruin part of a beautiful city just so somebody wouldn’t steal their fortune. I also realized the most valuable thing in the world is family and friends. My Grandpa taught me that. He broke the chain by showing me all the valuable memories we shared.
It has been five years since that adventure. I moved to New Westminster and now I’m working at the New Westminster police department as head detective. I donated the treasure to the Museum of Vancouver, and I couldn’t be happier.
About Isabella Bouchard
Isabella is a grade seven French immersion student at Glenbrook Middle School. She enjoys many extracurricular activities including; art, drama, swimming, and soccer. This is her first time entering a writing contest and she is hoping to become a published writer.