This is a true story.
Earlier this year I found myself perusing Facebook when I should have been working (what else is new?). I came across an article a friend had posted about the Bank of Canada holding millions of dollars in unclaimed funds belonging to private citizens. All you have to do to find out if you have any unclaimed funds out there is go to the Bank of Canada site and search your name.
So I did.
My jaw dropped when Mrs. Katie Bickell immediately appeared as one of only three Bickells that have unclaimed money. Almost $8000! The last transaction was made in 2004: I was 18 and working three jobs and in college full time then, could the money be a student bursary I had forgot about during that blurry year? No. I found that Katie Bickell’s last known address was in Ontario. Darn.
Then I remembered that while my husband’s paternal grandmother goes by a different surname now, she used to be Katherine Bickell, and she used to live in Ontario. I texted my mother in law to ask if it could be her mother-in-law’s but Katherine had never lived in the last known address.
Here’s where it gets really interesting.
My husband pulled me away from the computer to walk the dog, but something about that mysterious Katie Bickell was really annoying me. Hours later the thought of the lost money was still like a constant tapping on my shoulder. I needed to help her.
This led to a lengthy search.
I found a sparse obituary for a Katie Bickell who had lived in Ontario before her death. Ok, so she’s gone. Search over. But… no, this felt urgent. I did another search and came across a family tree for Katie Bickell. I learned she had given birth to eleven children, the youngest named Mary (name changed for privacy’s sake).
Now, I’m not the kind of person who stalks random strangers on the internet. But I really felt like I just had to find Mary. I Facebook searched “Mary Bickell, Ontario”, and found an elderly woman living in the province. I sent her a message.
“This might be strange to ask… but, are you the child of Katie Bickell?”
I explained that, if so, her late mother and I share the same name, and that I had found money I believed belonged to her. “I know this isn’t any of my business,” I wrote, “But if I were Katie Bickell (and I kinda am, haha), I would want my children to have these funds.”
Yesterday, the day after I had sent the message, Mary Bickell replied. She and her siblings had been searching for the money, but did not know where to find it as Katie hadn’t left a will. She thanked me for reaching out, but told me receiving the message was quite “spooky.”
“Yesterday was the 13th Anniversary of my mother’s death.”