It is said that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and it can now be safely said to trust a woman who can tell the difference.
Especially if she works at the Elora transfer station and sees lots of garbage. The good stuff stands out.
So, when Ruthann O’Donnell was vacuuming in her attic about a month ago, she knew almost instantly that she had struck something unusual at her home on Edinburgh Avenue in Fergus. She was vacuuming and some insulation got caught. When she stuffed it back in, she felt something and discovered an old wooden box.
It contained two very heavy medals attached to ribbons, and a old pin, and a couple of worn ribbons.
O’Donnell said she looked up the medals on the internet and learned that there might be engraving on the side of the coin, which is much thicker than normal. It had the name of William Dobbie on it, and the house she lives in used to belong to a Dobbie.
O’Donnell said, “The internet told me to look on the edge. If not, I might never have known.”
She had to look closely as the inscription is very small.
But there was more than just her living in a former Dobbie-owned home. She happened to know a Dobbie who dropped off garbage at the transfer station, so O’Donnell contacted William Dobbie, in Fergus.
It turned out a number of his family members have fought in wars. He said on a Sunday afternoon of the medals, “They must have been up there 60 years.”
He said Tommie Dobbie fought in World War II and enlisted in 1943 in the Royal Canadian Army 5th Canadian A/T Regiment.
He served in Canada, the British Isles, France, Holland, and Germany, and was discharged in 1946.
William Dobbie said his grandfather, also William, and William’s brother, Jim, also served in that war.
The three learned through a call to Toronto to another Bill Dobbie that the RE on the one medal that is from World War I stands for Royal Engineers. They are the ones who dug the tunnels in what was also known as The Mud War.
The pin bears the inscription National Reserve Clackmanshire. Rosemary Dobbie explained, “Bill’s dad was Scottish.”
Her husband noted his dad and brother “were brought over here to work for the Beatty Bros. – as long as they played soccer.”
With a number of Dobbies still living in Fergus, Rosemary Dobbie joked, “There might be a family war” over the medals.
A second medal features an angel and William Dobbie said it is of lacquered bronze.
The medals are now in the hands of the Dobbies because O’Donnell feels that is where they belong.
“I thought when I found ‘Dobbie,’ I’d give them back to the people who served us,” she said.