It was a hot and sunny day in July. The heat was almost unbearable. Aubree Jeffrey, the assistant gardener, was formally edging a flower bed at Haney House. The beds had been planted in 1991 and needed maintenance each season.

There was a flash and something sparkled in the sunlight, catching Aubree’s eye. She bent over and picked up a piece of metal with a broken chain attached. She cleared off the dirt.  It looked like real silver. It reminded Aubree of the dog tags she earned playing soccer as a kid.

The bracelet was engraved. OLIVE ASHTON was easy to read with the numbers 28.5.19 below.

The name on the bracelet didn’t mean anything to Aubree, but she showed the bracelet to the Head Gardener Debi Stone. Debi knew I was a hoarder of all things Haney. In short order the bracelet was dropped off at the archives work room.

When I saw the bracelet and heard the message, I was over the moon. Olive was R.J. Haney’s daughter-in-law, partner to Vern Haney. I tried to track Aubree down, but she had gone home for the day. Gardeners always start early.

I told Debi how thrilled I was to add this artefact to my collection of things found in the flower beds around Haney House. So far this included a broody egg, a broken cast iron toy dump truck with two wheels, a broken ceramic egg cup, a pottery shard, a pair of broken glasses, and a household porcelain insulator. They were all connected to the residents of Haney House, but we had no idea which ones. They could have belonged to R.J., his spouse Maggie, their children, their children’s families, or to the renters that followed, but this new find was definitely a direct link to the Haney family!

The bracelet looks something like a medical alert bracelet. It bears silversmith markings from Birmingham, England that were used between 1906 and 1920.  Olive’s surname is that of her first husband William. What did it signify? The engraved numbers did not match known dates. Olive was born October 28, 1890, so it wasn’t a birthday. Olive and Vern had one son, born November 3, 1920.

I wondered if the bracelet signified a marriage in 1919. I emailed Don Paterson, our designated genealogist. Don is always up to the challenge of a who done it. It turned out Olive and William Ashton were married in 1910 and not divorced until 1922. Both parties entered other relationships, something that doesn’t raise an eyebrow in 2021. People move on.

Olive lived in Haney House through the forties hosting South Canoe Red Cross meetings. She played piano, the late Louise Wright told me, and could be relied on for a duet. Olive also owned a very vocal parrot, the late Phil Cave also once told me.

What else is known about her? Olive’s daughter Antoinette from her first marriage and son Bob Haney were united in the 1990s and lived together in Salmon Arm. Olive was the tie that binds.

Little else is known about Olive.  The executor of Bob Haney’s estate has agreed to connect curatorial staff with the family for more information. We also are turning to our community. Are you able to help fill in the blanks? What stories about the Haney family do you remember?

And finally, thank you Aubree for finding an artefact that will start new discussions!