Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada

March 22, 2006 06:00 ET

Media Advisory: Library and Archives Canada Reunites a North Carolina Woman with the Memory of the Father She Never Knew, Family Keepsake to be Returned During Raleigh Ceremony

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 21, 2006) - To: Assignment Editors, PSA Editors

Library and Archives Canada and the Consulate of Canada in Raleigh, North Carolina, invite media representatives to a ceremony in which Ms. Anne Victoria Brown, from Louisburg, North Carolina, will be presented with a wartime memento and a baby ring that had been lost to her for over 60 years.

The event will be held this coming Friday, March 24, at 12:00 p.m. in the Glass Box at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Ms. Brown's father, Canadian Warrant Officer William Caldwell, was killed in 1941 when his ship, the SS Nerissa, was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank off the coast of Scotland. Caldwell carried his daughter's ring with his dog tags, which were washed ashore and never reached the family until now. Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Robertson, military attache at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, will officially hand over the family keepsake to Ms. Brown. Her husband, Rector Brown; Doug Rimmer, Assistant Deputy Minister, Library and Archives Canada; Louis Boisvert, Canadian Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner; Reverend Chris Carroll, pastor of Ms. Brown's church; Tom Belton, curator of military history, North Carolina Museum of History; and other dignitaries will be in attendance.

NEWS RELEASE AND BACKGROUNDER ATTACHED



WHAT: Ceremony to present wartime memento and family keepsake to
Ms. Anne Victoria Brown

WHEN: Friday, March 24, 2006
12:00 p.m. - Media representatives are asked to be present at
11:45 a.m.

WHERE: The Glass Box, North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street, Raleigh, North Carolina


LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA REUNITES A NORTH CAROLINA WOMAN WITH THE MEMORY OF THE FATHER SHE NEVER KNEW

This coming Friday, Library and Archives Canada will officially give Ms. Anne Victoria Brown, from Louisburg, North Carolina, a wartime memento and a baby ring that had been lost to her for over 60 years.

Ms. Brown's father, Canadian Warrant Officer William Caldwell, was killed in 1941 when his ship, the SS Nerissa, was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank off the coast of Scotland. Caldwell carried his newborn daughter's baby ring with his dog tags, which were found washed ashore. These were sent back to Canada, misfiled by an army clerk and never reached the family until now.

The tags and the ring were discovered in military files at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, during the preparation of an exhibition on the Second World War. Thanks to the curator of the exhibition, as well as investigative reporters from Ottawa and North Carolina, Ms. Brown was contacted.

To honour the memory of Warrant Officer William Caldwell, Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Robertson, military attache at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, will officially hand over the family heirloom to Ms. Brown at a ceremony this week in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"Had it not been for the discovery of a Canadian wartime hero's files in our archives, a daughter and a father might never have been reunited," said Mr. Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "It is an honour for Library and Archives Canada to have been part of this momentous occasion."

The event will be held Friday, March 24, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. at the North Carolina Museum of History. Ms. Brown will be presented with this family keepsake on the eve of her 65th birthday.

BACKGROUNDER - ANNE VICTORIA BROWN

In 1996, while living in Raleign, North Carolina, Mrs. Anne Victoria (Vicki) Brown, trying to trace members of her family, wrote to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to obtain information about her father, Canadian Warrant Officer William Caldwell, who died when his ship the SS Nerissa, was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank off the coast of Scotland. Caldwell's dog tags which were tied with his new born daughter's baby ring were found washed ashore. They were sent back to Canada, misfiled by an army clerk and never reached the family.

Files containing Caldwell's service records and the dog tags were discovered at Library and Archives Canada in 2000 during the preparation of an exhibition on World War II. However, it was not until the beginning of June 2005 that the link between Brown's 1996 request and the newly rediscovered files was made. Attempts to contact her were in vain since Brown had moved from Raleigh. Thanks to the exhibition's curator, Andrew Horrall, reporter Randy Boswell (The Ottawa Citizen/CanWest News Service) and researchers at the Raleigh Newspaper, The News & Observer, Brown was finally reached in Louisburg, North Carolina. On 21 June, Vicki Brown made the trip to Ottawa with husband Rex, to view the exhibition. The Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Ian E. Wilson, presented Brown with her father's military records and the heirloom while she placed the photos of her dad, parents' wedding and baby picture in the display case along with the dreaded letter sent to her mother announcing that her husband was "missing believed lost at sea". It was an emotional reunion with her past for Brown who was clearly shaken by the event and the attention of the press.

Ontario born Vicki Brown was only a couple of weeks old in April 1941 when her father shipped out for duty oversees. The family was living in Kingston, Ontario at that time. Following her father's death, Brown's mother took Vicki to Toronto, then they moved to California when Vicki was 15. Later on, Vicki married a member of the US Navy and became an American citizen. Vicki settled in North Carolina with her husband Rector (Rex) , over 12 years ago. She will be 65 on March 25 and is now living in Louisburg, North Carolina,

A formal hand over of Brown's family heirloom is planned at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh on Friday, 24 March, 12 o'clock. - the eve of her birthday. Brown plans to display the heirloom in her home, then pass them on to her daughter.

To honor the memory of Warrant Officer William Caldwell, Lt. Col. Jamie Robertson, military attache at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, will officially hand over the artifacts to Mrs. Brown. The Librarian and Archivist of Canada will be represented by Doug Rimmer, Assistant Deputy Minister (Programs and Services). Guests will be welcomed by the Canadian Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner, Louis Boisvert.

The event is being coordinated through the Consulate of Canada, Raleigh-Durham, working closely with Library and Archives Canada. Guests will include : the Canadian Consul an Senior Trade Commissioner, Louis Boivert, the Director of the Centre for Canadian Studies at Duke University, Jean-Jacques thomas, the pastro of Mrs. Brown's church, Reverend Chris Carroll and several close friends. City and State government officials have also been invited.

The story stirred significant media interest in Canada last June. It is expected that the interest will be equally great in North Carolina as this international "human interest" story comes full circle and brings closure to both Brown and the media.

Contact Information

  • Library and Archives Canada
    Pauline M. Portelance
    Media Relations Officer
    (613) 996-6128 or (613) 293-4298
    or
    The Consulate of Canada in Raleigh
    Mark B. Edwards
    (919) 573-1829 or (919) 649-9720