This specially crafted tile was one of three found by Jen McLeod in the backyard of her new Ucluelet home. McLeod harnessed the power of social media to return the tiles to the families they belonged to. (Photo - Jen McLeod)

Ucluelet local finds lost treasures in backyard

“I’ve got a kid who’s 3 and, if I had left something like that behind, I’d want to see it again.”

Found treasure recently catapulted a new local into Ucluelet’s community spirit while also helping a longtime Ucluetian add one more good deed to an already long list before moving out of town.

Jen McLeod was exploring the backyard of a home she had moved into 11 days prior when she came upon three unique, aged tiles she felt needed to be returned. The tiles were decorated with coloured rocks and beach glass and one included a handprint.

“This house has such a beautiful yard,” she said. “But, it’s kind of gotten overgrown in the back so I was poking around seeing what my kids would be playing with and I find these tiles..I noticed one was a handprint tile and I’ve got a little kid so it kind of touched my heart. It was clearly something that someone loved at some point. It was someone’s little hand. That was the thing that touched me. I’ve got a kid who’s 3 and, if I had left something like that behind, I’d want to see it again.”

McLeod pulled the tiles out and posted photos of them onto Facebook in the hopes of returning them to whomever they had belonged to.

“I got a, kind of, crazy response to it,” she said. “I had so many people messaging me about it.”

One of those people messaging her was Maureen Wells who recognized the tiles immediately as ones made by her friend Shirley Varns, who has since passed away.

“She was a very close friend of mine,” Wells said adding Varns had made the tiles over 10 years ago for her two grandchildren and her late friend Carol McBrine.

Wells helped McLeod reunite Carol’s widower Walter with Carol’s tile and plans to deliver the two grandchildren’s tiles to their grandfather in Nanaimo.

“I just thought Shirley would be happy if I did that,” she said.

McLeod was delighted to play a role in returning the lost treasures.

“It feels pretty fantastic. I feel like I was able to kind of become part of the community and I was really accepted as part of the community, because I’m brand new here. We literally just moved here from Alberta,” she said. “We visited here many times and that’s why we chose to buy a house here, but this has been my first community experience and it’s just been so warm and welcoming…I really appreciate how welcoming everyone has been in this community and what a fantastic community it is. I hope to make it my home for a long time.”

Wells has made it her home for 40 years since moving to the community with her parents in 1976 after her dad accepted a job as the local staff sergeant. She recently announced she would be moving to Qualicum Beach. Her last day of work at the local CIBC branch was last Tuesday.

“I grew up here basically from the age of 15 and, 41 years later, now I’m leaving. It is bittersweet. because I do love Ucluelet and I love my job and the people I work with and for and the clients, but I just had a really good opportunity to move to Qualicum,” she said adding the move will put her closer to her parents. “I’m overwhelmed with the responses I’m getting from people that I didn’t think cared. People have been coming to my work and bringing me flowers and gifts and cards and it makes it even harder to leave.”

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