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The mystery of the bronze statuette

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When you were young did you ever steal something and later regret it?

You’re likely in good company.

Apparently someone in Ottawa has been regretting a theft for six decades and finally wanted to make peace with his actions.

In June, workers at the Lord Elgin Hotel in downtown Ottawa were perplexed by the discovery of a bronze statue of British General James Wolfe in a plastic bag along with a note.

"This statuette of Wolfe was stupidly stolen in the 1950s from the old building that then housed the Public Archives of Canada on Sussex Drive. It is returned through the charity of strangers because my conscience has bothered me for a very long time and I am now an old man. I very much regret this act of foolishness and apologize to the authorities for having deprived the Archives of this artifact."

Perhaps what the guilt-laden thief did not know is that apparently nobody really knew the statuette was missing.

Officials at Library and Archives Canada – which used to be called the Public Archives of Canada – didn’t initially even know they had ever had such a statuette.

It took three months, numerous interviews with retired workers and combing through nearly century-old records, to find out the statuette probably was one of four statues the archives took possession of in 1914.

It is now being authenticated by the archives personnel. It’s apparently missing a sword and slightly damaged.

Nobody expects to ever figure out who actually took it or what in particular made the taker return it now.

-- Mia Rabson / The Capital Chronicles

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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