Time capsule prematurely unearthed

Lloyd Mathews, former FMF Weapons Shop worker, displays a Jan. 15, 1997, issue of the Lookout newspaper that he buried in a time capsule along with other items. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Lloyd Mathews, former FMF Weapons Shop worker, displays a Jan. 15, 1997, issue of the Lookout newspaper that he buried in a time capsule along with other items. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Lloyd Mathews never expected to see a time capsule that he buried “way back in 1997” ever again.

But that all changed about three weeks ago when Mathews, a retired Fleet Maintenance Facility (FMF) worker, received a call from Rob Harman, one of his former co-workers.

Harman called to tell him that a two-foot-long by six-inch-wide metallic canister had been exhumed from the site of building DY215, which once served as FMF’s Weapons Shop.

The building was constructed in 1952, and in the fall of last year demolition began on the site as part of FMF’s growing modernization footprint in Dockyard. The canister was discovered during the razing process.

“I was surprised to pick up the phone and hear Rob’s familiar voice on the other end,” says Mathews, who retired five years ago. “I thought back to the moment we put the capsule in the ground and never thought I would be alive when they opened it.”

In 1997, the building was renovated to accommodate a gun ring, an area where weaponry was maintained and dry tested. Mathews placed the cylinder a metre under the shop floor with aspirations that some young dockyard worker would find it many decades later and discover life three years before the millennial.

In February, construction company Quantum Murray Ltd. removed the time capsule from its shallow subterranean tomb.

“When we went to excavate the site and retrieve the time capsule we really didn’t know what we were going to find,” said Rick Johnston, a shop move coordinator for Ellis Don Kinetic. “There was quite a level of excitement amongst the labourers working on the site; they wanted to know the contents.”

A month later, Harman and Mathews carefully unscrewed the lid of the long silver cylinder and revealed its contents.

In near-perfect condition were two issues of the Lookout newspaper; a copy of Mathews’ pay stub; a newsletter from the Canadian Forces Sailing Association, which Mathews had been a member of, and an Interbase Real Estate publication with many homes listed for sale in the Greater Victoria in the $150,000 range.

The lead story in the Jan. 22, 1997, issue of the Lookout featured a visit to the base by newly-appointed Minister of National Defence Doug Young, while the Jan. 15 edition included several pages on the devastation caused by the Great Blizzard of 1996 and the official opening of the base’s new skating facility, the Wurtele Arena.

The recovery of the time capsule not only gave Mathews an opportunity to turn the clock back 20 years, but also get reacquainted with his co-workers.

“I was really pleased they had taken the time and care to think of and involve me in the opening up of the time capsule,” said Mathews. “It really shows they [FMF] care about their people.”

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. Tim Matthews says:

    This is pretty cool! I remember my dad mentioning the time capsule. I totally sounds like him to leave a real estate flyer in the thing. You spelled our name wrong, though. It’s got two ‘t’s.

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