The Gleaner

Time capsule discovered at Howick Elementary

While Howick Elementary School was undergoing renovations this summer, an exciting discovery was made. Behind a wall that was about to be torn down, a construction worker, Nathan Couillard, noticed a piece of paper that ended up being a letter from a time capsule left over 25 years ago.

The letter was written by Valley resident Liliane Gagnon when she was in grade 5. Her teacher at the time (Diane Furey) encouraged the class to write a letter to their future selves and hide it in the wall. “I remember they were building a brand-new staff room for the teachers at the time. There were big holes in the wall, and she said, ‘Write a letter to your future self just in case one day they might do renovations.’ And obviously, they did!” Gagnon explains.

The discovery of the letter itself was “a little bit spiritual,” she says. In the letter, she mentions her father who has since passed, and her brothers. Re-reading it really brought her back to the moment when she wrote it as a child. “I was like, ‘Halloween is coming. It makes me happy.’ I feel like I remember that whole time. It was pretty neat,” she says. She adds that it was also a weird experience for her to know that of the 20 kids who left letters to themselves, hers was the only one that was discovered. She says she feels very lucky.

She also wrote about her predictions about being married and having children. It was surreal to realize that when she was writing this, she was the same age that her oldest son is now. “I have a son who’s in grade 5, going into grade 6 this year. I thought that was pretty neat, to picture myself back at his age.”


Liliane Gagnons school photograph from Grade 5 at Howick Elementary School PHOTO Courtesy of Liliane Gagnon


If Gagnon could write a letter back to her younger self, she says she would say, “Everything that has happened since, in the past 25 years, has led me to this moment and who I am today as a person.” She recommends writing a letter to your future self, regardless of how old you are now. She has left other time capsules and letters to herself throughout the years, in places like her grandmother’s home.

When Couillard found the letter, he posted it on the “Spotted: Howick” Facebook group. When people started reaching out about it, Gagnon was shocked at how many messages she was receiving but was touched by how much people cared. “It just felt like a big hug,” she says.

Gagnon has lived in the Valley her whole life and says, “I never lost contact with anybody, ever. I’ve known everybody my whole life around the Valley,” to the point where even the current secretary at Howick Elementary is the mother of someone who was in the same class in which Gagnon wrote this letter. It was lovely seeing the community get so excited about a discovery like this one.

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