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A prescription for nostalgia: Unclaimed photos from the 1960s discovered in Winnipeg pharmacy

A box of photographs found in a Selkirk Avenue pharmacy is offering a glimpse into the city’s past and reconnecting people with long-lost memories.

Dwayne Hynes, a supervisor at Empire Drugs, discovered the unclaimed photos in an old desk while searching through the pharmacy’s basement.

“The [envelopes] were never opened,” Hynes told CTV News. “They were stapled from when they were developed – and I was the first one to see them.”

Empire Drugs supervisor Dwayne Hynes found hundreds of unclaimed photos were found in the pharmacy’s basement. (Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

He said the pharmacy used to serve as a drop-off location for camera film. Customers would fill out a slip with their names and contact information, and the film was taken to Meyer’s Drugs on William Avenue to be developed.

However, the photographs of families, parties, vacations, snowstorms, and Winnipeg’s North End in the 1960s were never picked up.

One envelope, dated Aug. 23, 1966, contains wedding photos taken in front of an idyllic white picket fence.

“All the houses in the North End were pretty much new,” Hynes said. “I guess that’s cool to see.”

Another, dated Oct. 14, 1967, includes pictures from when the circus came through town.

“There’s a lot of pictures of a parade downtown – the Shriners, people on motorbikes,” Hynes said, flipping through the stack. “You can see downtown in the background. They’re beautiful photos.”

However, not all of the photos capture happy or even mundane moments from the past.

“It’s devastating, but there’s a car crash in this one,” Hynes said, holding a pile of black and white photos. “There’s lots of history here.”

Hundreds of unclaimed photos were found in the basement of Empire Drugs on Selkirk Avenue. (Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

Now, Hynes is trying to reunite the photos with their owners, or at least, their owner’s relatives.

He posted snippets of the collection on a Facebook page Tuesday night. He included the envelopes with names, addresses, and drop-off dates. He said the response has been overwhelming – as people connect the dots.

“One lady hadn’t seen pictures of her grandma in so long and had very few of them – so now I have a whole stack for her!”

Several of the Facebook posts now include comments from family, friends, and neighbours staking claim to the pictures.

“Wilfred Favel is my grandfather, the man playing the guitar and I see my grandmother in these photos,” one post reads. “Is it possible that I can get the physical photos/originals of them? We don’t have many photos of either of them.”

Other posters are wondering what happened to the people in the photos.

“I grew up in the 800 block of Selkirk Avenue and the older girl in the photo looks like my friend Adeline,” the post reads. “Her and her sister lived with their grandmother. She moved away with her mother and I never saw her again.”

Envelopes containing unclaimed photographs from the 1960s were discovered in the basement of a Selkirk Avenue pharmacy in Winnipeg. (Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

Hynes said he’s arranging plans for people to pick up the photos – nearly 60 years after they were first dropped off.

“This little box is making a huge impact,” Hynes said. “It makes you feel great to be able to connect people with the photos because I come from a generation where photos mean everything. They were kept in albums and they were the family’s history. Being able to [return] these to the owners means everything.”

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