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Mystery of how N.S. town key ended up in Russian museum solved
AMHERST, N.S. -- The answer to the mystery of how a ceremonial key to the town of Amherst ended up in a military museum in Moscow was finally revealed this week at the Nova Scotia Highlanders Museum.
The mystery began 8 years ago, when a relative of Angus Furlong was travelling in Russia and took a picture of an odd piece of Maritime Memorabilia.
“It was just somebody who knew I was a history buff and thought this would be something curious and was wondering why they saw that, sitting in Russia,” said Furlong.
The item, was a large ceremonial key that says “Key to Amherst, Nova Scotia” on the front, but Furlong’s relative couldn’t rembember where the photo had been taken.
The year 1943 is on the key, and so the puzzle ended up at the Nova Scotia Highlanders Museum.
“All I had to go by was the picture, one email, and it just said, a military museum in Moscow,” said John Wales, the Highlander Museum's assistant curator.
Museum officials sent email inquiries to every Russian museum they could find on the internet, and they got a positive response from the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow.
“The curator from Russia sent us some newspaper articles and some documentation. A copy of the letter that the Soviet consul-general from Halifax had sent to the mayor of Amherst and it was really exciting,” Wales said.
Photocopied documents show the Russiam consul was in Amherst in 1943, to visit factories helping in the war effort. He spoke to the local rotary club, where he was presented the key, but it seems few people, if any, in the town remember the event today.
“I never heard tell of them presenting a key to the town to anybody else, and to have this key to town in a Russian Museum,” said Ray Coulson, museum curator.
Both Coulson and Wales agree that they key should be kept in Moscow.
“We gave it in good faith to our then Soviet allies and they, at least, had the decency to keep it and put it in a museum and put it in a place of pride,” said Wales.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh