Police recover artifacts stolen from N.S. archives, Province House
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:41PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2013 7:50PM AST
A Nova Scotia man has been charged with the possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen artifacts.
Among the items is a rare letter written by Gen. James Wolfe days before his siege of Louisbourg and a rare painting missing from Province House in Halifax.
Police hired a cube van to haul the stolen goods from John Mark Tillman’s Millers Lake home in Fall River. They have been working at it since Friday.
“When our officers went into the residence, we basically were pretty well overwhelmed by all the merchandise that was available,” says Halifax RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae.
Along with the letter, police recovered an 1819 John Elliott Woolford painting of Province House. It was stolen from Province House at one point, but exactly when is not clear.
“We were looking for property that we believed was stolen fom universities, museums, private collectors around the province,” says MacRae. “What we’re talking about are rare books and documents of value.”
The letter written by Wolfe was stolen from the archives at the Dalhousie Library.
“The last Wolfe letter that I was able to track down that went up for auction a number of years ago went for over $18,000 U.S.,” says archives manager Michael Moosberger.
He also says Tillman is well-known in Nova Scotia libraries and archives.
“He was well-known and came in and used the collection on a regular basis for quite some time.”
Other items recovered belong to the Nova Scotia Archives and books belonging to Mount Saint Vincent University.
RCMP are circulating photos of some of the recovered items to archives and libraries to see is they can be identified and their rightful owners determined.
Tillman hasn’t been charged with stealing the items, but he is facing charges of possession of stolen property.
MacRae says an RCMP officer found the letter in Tillman’s car when he pulled him over to see if he was complying with court-imposed conditions.
Tillman has previous criminal convictions and outstanding charges on unrelated alleged offences that go before the courts in April.
He will remain in the Nova Scotia Correctional Facility until his next court appearance Thursday.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant