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Belle Hatfield
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Local museums contacted about historical stash

Yarmouth County Museum curator Nadine Gates, shown here with a cap from a First World War uniform that is part of an African Heritage Month exhibit, has been approached by RCMP officers trying to repatriate stolen artifacts with their rightful owners. BELLE HATFIELD PHOTO

By Belle Hatfield

The Vanguard



The stash is staggering in its volume and scale. RCMP investigators recently seized more than 1,300 items from a home outside of Halifax and have concluded many belong to museums, academic libraries and other significant collections throughout the Maritimes.

John Mark Tillmann, 51, is due in provincial court in Halifax later this month to face charges of possession of stolen property after police searched his Fall River home last month and confiscated paintings, furniture, rare books and documents estimated to be worth more than $500,000.  Police allege that the stolen goods had been collected over several decades.

The Yarmouth County Museum is among many institutions scouring their collections to see what may have gone missing over the last 30 years.

Yarmouth museum curator Nadine Gates said last Tuesday that they have been contacted by the RCMP in Halifax and have provided the police with three noteworthy items to be on the lookout for – a set of brass knuckles, an old telephone and a powder horn. These are items that have been recorded missing from the museum’s collection.

“It’s mind boggling. There are big pieces in there,” Gates said, adding, “It’s going to take them quite a while to get through all of it.”

The RCMP have also contacted the Musée Acadien in West Pubnico.

An RCMP spokesperson, Sgt. Colin MacLean, told the Vanguard, “We do have a lead about some items being from down in that area, and we're following up on that, but it may take a couple weeks to get through that info.”

The RCMP have created an online archive of the seized materials on their Nova Scotia website to aid in the owner identification process.

Many of the items are historically significant and the investigation is expected to take weeks and possibly months to complete.

Police are requesting the public’s assistance in identifying the seized items and determining the rightful owners. People are encouraged to visit this website:  http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ns/index-eng.htm

Anyone who recognizes or can provide information on an item can call (902) 426-1607 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Organizations: RCMP, Yarmouth County Museum

Geographic location: Halifax, Fall River, West Pubnico

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