*image via Google image search*
..The Toronto Star calls it "the mystery of the purple suitcase."
Three years ago, Shelburne, Ontario, resident Tonya Ritchie bought a purple suitcase for $5 from a St. John's, Newfoundland, Salvation Army.
She was out east for a wedding and needed additional luggage to cart frozen fish back home to Ontario.
What she didn't know at the time was that three 8 mm film reels were tucked into the bag's front pocket. After the bag successfully carried the fish back to Ontario, Ritchie stored it in her attic.
She recently retrieved the bag for another trip. This time, she discovered the front-pocket film reels.
"I said, 'This is somebody's memories,'" Ritchie told The Telegram. "If they were mine, I'd want them."
The tapes from the '60s were marked with Canada Post stamps and belonged to a Mr. James Brander of Glen Williams, Ontario. Ritchie knew her good friend, Janet Piper, who lived just three doors down, grew up in Glen Williams. Out of curiosity, Ritchie's husband showed Piper's husband the tapes.
Piper's husband knew the name: James Brander was his wife's father. He passed away nine years ago. His distinctive handwriting was recognizable on the tapes.
The reels contained Piper's childhood memories: a trip to Disney World, Piper's grandmother's birthday party, a New Year's celebration.
"We laughed, we cried, we hugged. We were a little freaked out," Piper said.
"I was blown away," Piper added. "We're all still blown away."
"What are the chances of us being such good friends, living so close, me buying the suitcase?" Ritchie, 40, said.
Piper, 51, says her family thought the tapes were lost when they moved from Glen Williams to Shelburne in the '70s.
"To give (Janet) back a piece of her dad is more than I can ever put into words," Ritchie said.
"Like, the expression on her face when she held those and saw her dad's handwriting, I can't even put it into words. It was incredible."
No one knows how the reels got to Newfoundland, nor does anyone in Piper's family recognize the purple suitcase.
The Salvation Army, where it was purchased, has since closed. There was no other identification on the bag.
"It is just bizarre, the chances of me picking it up is crazy," Ritchie said of the purple suitcase. "It is the best five bucks I've ever spent."
"I have a feeling that it's not over yet," Piper said of the mystery. "The story of the purple suitcase is not over."