Whalley resident Nathanael Powell holds a 113-year old christening gown, worn by 59 people since 1907, which was stolen from his front porch in Whalley after a FedEx delivery. It has since been returned. (Submitted photo)

Mountie returns Surrey family’s 113-year-old christening gown after it was stolen from porch

The 113-year old christening gown, worn by 59 people since 1907, was stolen from a front porch in Whalley after a FedEx delivery

A fresh new chapter in the storied saga of a 113-year-old white lace christening gown has a cheerful ending thanks to the tenacity of a Surrey Mountie who returned the stolen heirloom late Saturday night to a grateful Whalley family.

Nathanael Powell, 34, said his great aunt in Newfoundland had been the “keeper of the dress” and would actually travel with it when duty called, but unfortunately she passed away a couple of years ago. With Powell’s son James, who is almost two months old, set to be christened on Aug. 9, Powell’s dad’s cousin sent it to him by FedEx from Ontario.

The gown was originally worn by Powell’s great grandmother in 1907, in Newfoundland.

“It was created for her. It’s been worn subsequently by all of her children, and all of her children’s children, and now even the next generation, with my kids. To date, 59 people have been christened or baptized in it.

“It arrived on Thursday but I didn’t know at the time that it had arrived. Somebody stole it,” Powell explained. “She contacted me on Friday to say, ‘Hey, did you get it?’”

Powell said he asked a neighbour if he’d seen the package. The neighbour checked his surveillance camera footage, which captured the delivery and theft.

The footage revealed the package had been stolen 20 minutes after it was delivered to Powell’s front porch, by a thief who was wearing a reflective vest, carrying a clipboard, and had pulled up Powell’s in a van.

“I checked my own camera and I actually got a decent picture of the guy and the car and the whole scene, so I called police and a constable came out,” Powell said.

“This would have been on Saturday, so the theft was Thursday. I didn’t realize it until Friday night but Saturday morning the police came out. I want to give a ‘shout out’ to the Surrey RCMP because this constable is fantastic. Very sympathetic.”

Constable Brenden Vogt, the hero of this story, said he found the package ditched inside a forest, about 20 feet off the roadway.

“I found this FedEx box, it didn’t look too, too beat up,” he said. “Holy cow, I looked inside the box and lo-and-behold, the dress was still inside.”

Vogt’s safari didn’t scratch him up too badly. He said he had to give his boots “a nice little polish” before his next shift, “and that’s about it.”

The Surrey Mountie had already drawn local praise in 2019 headlines after he pulled over in his patrol car to shoot some impromptu hoops with neighbourhood kids who were playing basketball near Bear Creek Park.

READ ALSO: Father thanks B.C. Mountie for shooting hoops with kids, ‘changing perspectives’

Corporal Elenore Sturko noted that Vogt “spent a lot of time” on the stolen gown file, “actually, extra time.

“It was past his shift and he was still looking through the bushes because he wanted to try to find it for the family. He was determined to find the dumped package and so he went through the bushes on Old Yale, west of 128. And not long after that, he returned it to the family.”

Powell praised the constable’s effort.

“It sounds like a bit of a wild goose chase,” he said.

“We ended up posting to Facebook, hoping that somebody in the city would see it or know something. I guess a fellow who works at an impound lot recognized the van that got pulled in there. So that info was given to police, and he was able to follow that lead and at 10 p.m. he came back to our house and had the gown in hand.

“There was a caterpillar on it, and a couple of leaves in the box. I think it must have been tossed out. A bit of minor cleaning, my mom’s going to take care of that.”

Powell said the precious gown was “literally down the street’ from his place.

“I guess the guy realized it’s not worth anything, you know, any money, and he must have tossed it out the window or something.

“We’re just thrilled,” he said. “This is a great piece of family history that maybe I took for granted before, but man, like I’m going to be so pleased to have him wear it on his baptism.

“Maybe this will be kept in a family safe or something for now.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

surrey rcmp

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crash on Lougheed Highway east of Mission blocking traffic

Occurred at intersection with Waring Road, crews en route, according to DriveBC

‘Alien invasion’: Strange webbing creeps in overnight in Agassiz,Harrison

Eerie webbing might be the result of a growth in moth population

Video series reassures kids that Santa still coming to town, despite social distancing

Mission’s Junction Shopping Centre created the series to ease children’s fears

Permanent fish-passage solutions considered at Big Bar landslide

151,000 salmon detected this year north of site

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Sept. 27

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Another death as COVID-19 outbreak at Delta Hospital climbs to 18 cases

Total of 12 patients and six staff in one unit have tested positive for COVID-19: Fraser Health

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Most Read