On October 10, Vancouver photographer Thom Hamilton found an SD card containing 1,200 photos of an around-the-world trip on a sidewalk in Stanley Park.
He mailed the couple their SD card via FedEx this morning.
The Australian couple were just a week away from completing their trip around the world when their camera was stolen.
"They were devastated," Hamilton told the Province. "That was all their memories."
To identify the card's owners, Hamilton combed through their photos and traced their journey, which started on July 22, to Norway, Denmark, Holland, France and Canada. Vancouver was their final destination before returning home.
"As I started seeing images, I kind of saw a really big story developing in front of my eyes," he recalled. "It started painting a picture that it was a retirement couple who are on the trip of a lifetime, possibly."
Hamilton posted some of their photos on his Facebook page and appealed to local media, but no one identified them.
"I empathize with the people in the pictures," he explained his motivation for trying to help to the Province. "Being a photographer, I could image what it would feel like to lose an entire vacation of pictures. I hope that someone would put in some effort to find me."
On closer inspection of the photos, Hamilton realized the couple was probably Australian. Their itinerary was a logical one if they started there, and a T-shirt in one of the photos promoted an annual charity event in Western Australia.
Hamilton contacted Perth Now, the largest newspaper in Western Australia, which ran the story of the lost photos.
"This was a trip literally around the world, so these memories need to find their way home," Hamilton told the newspaper.
Readers recognized the couple.
"Next thing I know is I had a friend request, someone was telling me they’re the cousin of the couple in the photos, and then the whole thing just took off," Hamilton told CTV British Columbia. "Within about half an hour I had an email from Maree, who was actually the owner of the card."
"It's a little bit mind-blowing that there’s almost 7-billion people on the Earth, they could have been from anywhere, and within 10 days, by the start of a Facebook page, this all fell into place," he added.
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The Lindbergs had been travelling the world this summer, visiting apprentices who had lived and worked on their farm over the past 20 years.
"So they were going from country to country to country to check in on some people they had taught throughout their life," Hamilton said.
Maree Lindberg told Hamilton that their camera bag had been stolen in Vancouver.
"I can still hardly believe it, I never imagined that I would see any of the photos again," Maree wrote in an email to Hamilton. "I also want to say a huge thank you to you for all the effort you’ve gone to to locate us."
Hamilton is now considering a trip to Australia to meet the Lindbergs.