Descendants of loved ones in old photographs meet the woman who helped reunite them
A River Canard, Ont. woman has solved part of a mystery she uncovered while decluttering her home last month.
A woman who goes by the name of JoJo reached out to CTV News Windsor last week in an attempt to identify several anonymous war time photographs along with several postcards she found in a box dating back to the 1940s.
“It's a great feeling. It's you know, C’est bon! It's wonderful,” JoJo said. “I was so happy. I was smiling and whoa, this was quick!”
Vince and Jan Sacilotto of Emeryville, Ont. said they recognized the house and smiling faces seen in several of the pictures when JoJo’s story initially aired.
“I said, ‘Oh my God!’” recalled Vince Sacilotto. “I said, ‘Put down whatever you’re doing get over here and take a look.’”
Jan Sacilotto said she immediately recognized her father and uncle Bob in some of the images along with the war photo depicting four naval reservists from HMCS Cornwallis.
A woman named Jojo from River Canard, Ont. is on a mission to identify the men and women in a box of old photographs she discovered in her attic in January 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)“I remember the one of Uncle Bob,” Sacilotto said. “I remember when we used to go to his house, the navy one and he went and he had it on the wall.”
Sacilotto recalled growing up in the Wellesley Avenue home where JoJo lived and where the pictures unknowingly sat untouched for decades.
“I love it,” Sacilotto said. “Great guy. He died. He was 96 but didn't talk much about the war. Not much just opened up once or twice and that was it.”
She said she didn’t recognize the other three reservists in the picture, but hoped they could soon be identified.
The local commanding officer for HMCS Hunter in Windsor, Ont. said he was excited about JoJo’s discovery, noting it coincides with the Naval Reserve’s centennial celebrations.
“I think it's undiscovered history for each individual there,” said Cdr. Richard Hillier. “There's a story and we don't know what that story is and it'd be fascinating to find out.”
Hillier told CTV News Windsor HMCS Cornwallis was a recruit training base for most people joining the Canadian Armed Forces for many years.
River Canard resident JoJo meets with Vince and Jan Sacilotto of Emeryville, Ont. on Feb. 7, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor) “Everybody who joined the Canadian military, army, navy, [and] air force for a period of many, many decades went through that returning base Cornwallis in Annapolis, Nova Scotia,” he said.
Hillier said many commemorative events are planned in Windsor throughout the year to recognize the Naval Reserve’s 100 years of service to Canada, hoping others may recognize the faces seen in the picture JoJo uncovered.
“Windsor had an incredible impact on the Navy Reserve, and the impact of World War II, quite frankly,” Hillier said. “We have flown under the radar for too long and I want to change that. I want to remind people that we're there and also to let them know that we are a public institution that belongs to them and I want them to feel that ownership.”
In the meantime, JoJo has relinquished the box of pictures to the Sacilottos who intend to pass the newly discovered family keepsakes onto their children.
“They meant a lot to me for some reason,” JoJo said.
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