letter india

Mysterious letter from 1935 India and old TTC transfer found at Toronto Value Village

Those who love shopping in second-hand stores know that there are treasures to be found, if you look hard enough.

An unexpected treasure was what one Toronto woman found while killing time this week. Tade Credgeur says she was getting an oil change for her car Wednesday morning. She was looking for someplace warm while waiting and went into the Value Village on Queen Street in Leslieville.

"So I was just going through and looking at random vintage purses and came across a little section inside and pulled the paper out," she says.

It was a small, tan purse, almost like a wallet with a metal clasp. The letter, along with a TTC paper transfer and a small paper bag, were inside the purse.

"I pulled it out and thought 'holy moly, this is really old and obviously very treasured, you know, to keep it around,'" Credgeur says.

Dated May 15, 1935, the letter appears to be from the Capitol Theatre in Bombay (Mumbai). The theatre is one of Mumbai's oldest, built in 1879, and renamed the Capitol in 1928 when it became a movie theatre.

The letter is short and reads: "Dear Master Errol, We take pleasure in informing you that you have been awarded the first prize for the David Copperfield Prize Essay. Our messenger will hand over to you the Dialogue and Continuity Script Book of the film with the signed autographs of all the actors and actresses in the picture."

It is signed by the theatre's manager.

Credgeur posted the find on the popular Facebook group Weird Toronto, where people speculated the transfer, from Finch East, was likely from the late 1970s or 1980s. The Finch TTC subway station opened in 1974.

They also suggested the term "master" meant the letter was addressed to a child.

The film the letter is referring to is likely David Copperfield, released in 1935 by MGM. Credgeur tweeted the photo tagging MGM hoping they might shed light on the essay contest from that time period. Perhaps Master Errol wrote an essay about the film and won the prize pack.

"It seems like a very odd stretch, this American movie in the 30s and this prize being awarded in Bombay, you know, (there is an) international mystery behind all this."

She hopes to find out more about this letter and who it belonged to.

"The mystery is who was Errol? Who treasured this letter for so many years to keep it in their purse to pull out at any moment of pride?" she says.

Because the TTC transfer was found in the same pocket, she thinks the person kept the letter there for more than 40 years.

"This little treasure just feels like someone didn't realize it was in there when they when they donated it."

She also hopes to get it back to a family member.

"This was obviously very treasured by someone and marked something really important," she adds. "It just felt too precious to not get out there and find the person that may or may not appreciate it — a grandchild or great-grandchild."

Lead photo by

Tade Credgeur

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