Earlier this month, Ocean Park resident Bill Field embarked on a mission to uncover the identities of two people – Frank and Louise Johnson – whose names were engraved on a memorial headstone on a property near Kwomais Point.
The first of the still-evolving mystery took about a week to solve – thanks to information from the BC Genealogical Society, which provided plenty of information to the 73-year-old Field, who has lived in the area since the mid-1980s.
Now, for the second step: returning the marker to its rightful heirs.
Though the property had long been home to multiple generations of the Tuttle family, it turns out that Frank, who passed away in 1955, and Louise, who died in 1967, had been friends of the Tuttles and had briefly rented a tiny cottage on the land.
The headstone had been found in late March, by members of a work crew that was onsite at a soon-to-be-redeveloped property in the 12900-block of 13 Avenue in South Surrey.
Though he now knew more about the couple – and specifically, knew why they would have had a memorial stone at the property – Field didn’t stop there. He continued to trace the Johnson and Tuttle origins, eventually tracking down family members both near and far.
Now one of those family members, a grandchild, is set to reclaim the headstone.
As work continues on the redevelopment property, Field, with the help of a neighbour, moved the memorial marker “about 100 metres” east, onto his nearby property.
“I was concerned about someone thieving it, until I came to realize it weighed more than 60 pounds,” Field said.
The stone will remain at Field’s property until Pat Knecht, a grandchild of the Johnsons who lives in Calgary, can travel to the Semiahmoo Peninsula and retrieve it – something that isn’t likely to happen until the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
In an interview with Peace Arch News prior to making contact with relatives, Field wondered if anyone in the Johnson family even knew of the marker’s existence, let alone its exact location.
“Thanks for locating our family so that we can reclaim it,” Knecht wrote in an email to Field, adding that the marker was “an unusual treasure.”
“I have fond memories of time spent on the property visiting grandparents.”
“We will gladly keep it until you have a chance to pick it up,” answered Field.
Field told PAN that the last month of research has satisfied his “general curiosity” about local history, while noting that he comes by his inquisitiveness honestly – both his wife and his father-in-law were investigative journalist, and so is his brother.
“It’s been a gratifying experience,” he said.