Early Saturday morning, Andi McCord turned on the news and saw something startling—a dated image of what appeared to be her late mother-in-law was plastered across her television screen.
“I was like ‘oh my God that's Mary’s handwriting.’ And then when I saw the woman by the church, I was like, ‘oh my God that’s Mary.’”
Mary McCord died in March at the age of 97. The family had just sold her home on Friday, her daughter-in-law said, one day before Andi McCord saw the photos flash on the morning news.
“What are the odds that I would see this at six o'clock in the morning, like it's just weird,” she said, adding that she usually watch the news before going into work.
The photographs were found scattered on a sidewalk near Coxwell Avenue and Gerrard Street in the city’s east-end by a Toronto woman identified only as Fiona.
Fiona posted the photos to Reddit hoping to find the people they belonged to. She told CTV News Toronto on Friday that two of the photos are dated. One features the words “Bertha and David (Marlene’s brother) and is dated September 1944 and the other has the words “Victoria, B.C.” on it and is dated March 1, 1942.
The photographs were then broadcasted on CP24, where Andi McCord saw them the following morning.
She told CTV News Toronto that that it wasn’t the content of the photographs that she noticed right away, but rather her mother-in-law’s handwriting.
“Her penmanship was beautiful,” Andi McCord said. “I even have an envelope of her letters that she wrote and, like, I’m looking at it, I'm like, matching it. I was like ‘oh my God, these are her pictures.’”
Andi McCord doesn’t know how the photographs ended up on the sidewalk in the city’s east-end, but said it is possible that another family member who lives in that area may have thrown out or donated some of her mother-in-law’s household items before the house was sold. She said that the photographs may have been mixed in with those objects.
Mary McCord moved to Toronto from Winnipeg sometime between 1941 and 1942, her daughter-in-law said. She was described by her family as fearless and independent right up to her last days.
“You know they talk about women nowadays, that you know being independent and fearless and you know a go-getter. That's what she was at 97.”
“I wish I had that, and I hope to God that one day, that my kids, my two girls, has the exact same as their grandmother.”
The McCord family said that their matriarch had a large personality, loved to bake and was incredibly crafty. Her son, Bruce McCord, said that his mother made most of her own clothing.
“She knit us all sweaters as kids but she had difficulties with the sizes, so every time we went to school we had sweaters that went down to our knees.”
Andi McCord said that the family is trying to get her a bench in the city’s Sunnyside neighbourhood as her mother-in-law always talked about how it was one of her favourite places.
“She used to, when she was in her 30s, or when she was younger, she used to go to Sunnyside, and back then there was like a bar, club or whatever, but the dance floor was outside. And she used to go and her soldier boyfriends would go and her girlfriends would go and hang out there and drink and dance the night away in the moonlight.”
“She says it was magical.”
Fiona said that she has been in contact with Andi McCord and will be mailing her the photographs.
“It’s still somewhat of a mystery as to how these photos came to be scattered on the sidewalk on the other side of the city, but I'm so happy to be sending them home,” Fiona said.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Phil Tsekouras