'Amazing coincidence' reunites Yukon man with long-lost family heirloom

·3 min read
Ted Staffen of Whitehorse with an old trunk that used to belong to his family in Saskatchewan. The trunk recently turned up at a Whitehorse antique shop. (Elyn Jones/CBC - image credit)
Ted Staffen of Whitehorse with an old trunk that used to belong to his family in Saskatchewan. The trunk recently turned up at a Whitehorse antique shop. (Elyn Jones/CBC - image credit)

Ted Staffen is still a little floored to have it back in his family's possession.

"Delighted. It just is an amazing coincidence," he said, standing beside an old trunk that recently made its way from the prairies to a Whitehorse antique store.

"That trunk probably sold in a yard sale around 1975, we think. And so from 1975 until it came to Marlene's possession, we had no idea where it was."

Marlene Jennings is the owner of Behind the Barn, a year-old store in Whitehorse that sells antiques and re-purposed furniture and other objects. The old trunk recently arrived in a truck full of stuff they had collected and stored in Saskatchewan.

At first, it seemed just another nice antique trunk, possibly from the 1920s, Jennings said. It sat with a pile of other stuff for a while before she took a closer look at it.

"Everything's been kept in beautiful shape, so it's quite a looker," she said.

"One of the things I noticed was, it had a tag on it and there was a name that I recognized and I didn't really know why."

The tag reads, "From C.C. Staffen, Cloverdale, BC to Mr. F.E. Staffen, Nipawin, Sask."

The trunk had a tag that caught antique dealer Marlene Jennings's eye — and a name that she recognized.
The trunk had a tag that caught antique dealer Marlene Jennings's eye — and a name that she recognized.(Behind the Barn/Facebook)

Eventually, Jennings remembered meeting a Staffen, years ago, in Whitehorse — Ted.

"And I thought to myself, whenever I get to this, I'm going to try and track this guy down," she said.

It wasn't too hard — Staffen is relatively well-known around town, as a businessman, a longtime MLA and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Word got to him about the trunk, and so he gave Jennings a call and popped by the store.

"[Jennings] had it underneath other trunks so somebody didn't buy it until I came and had a look at it," Staffen recalled.

"And immediately I recognized our family names, of course."

Staffen is 'delighted' to have the heirloom back in his family.
Staffen is 'delighted' to have the heirloom back in his family.(Elyn Jones/CBC)

Staffen, whose family roots are in Saskatchewan, said the trunk was sent by his father to his grandfather.

"My dad was on the TransCanada pipeline at the time ... my sister and I think it's probably between 1956 and '58 that he sent that over to Nipawin, Saskatchewan."

Staffen says his sister remembers seeing the trunk in the basement of their family home, years ago. They believe the trunk was sold when their parents eventually moved to a smaller house.

Now Staffen has it in his garage in Whitehorse, but he's just holding it temporarily. Eventually it will be inherited by his grandson Magnus, who's now just a year old.

"Magnus was born in Whitehorse, but he and his family just moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. So the trunk will make its trip back to Saskatchewan at sometime in the next 50 years!" Staffen said.

Staffen fills Marlene Jennings in on some of his family history. Jennings calls the trunk reunion a 'once-in-a-lifetime story.'
Staffen fills Marlene Jennings in on some of his family history. Jennings calls the trunk reunion a 'once-in-a-lifetime story.' (Elyn Jones/CBC)

Jennings was as delighted as Staffen to make the connection and return the lost family heirloom. It was an emotional reunion, she says.

"We were just so happy to get it to him," she said.

"I mean, that's not how I make money, returning things to families ... but I'm sure it's a once-in-a-lifetime story."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting