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‘A blast from the past’: Lost wallet returns to B.C. man after 33 years

Nick Chowdhury was in his early twenties when he lost his wallet while fishing in 1991

Nick Chowdhury was in his early 20s when he lost his wallet at the Comox Marina while fishing in 1991.

Unbeknownst to him, a young man would return his wallet, more than 30 years later, after finding it at roughly the same location where it was last seen.

Born and raised in the Comox Valley, Chowdhury recalled how everything unfolded on that fateful day.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” he said. “One summer day, I grabbed my fishing rod and went out to the Comox Marina when the tide was low. I hopped over the edge of the dock onto the breakwater rocks. As I started walking my wallet, which was in my front pocket, was sticking out of my shorts. So I looked at a spot and I remember holding my wallet and gently putting it down thinking ‘This is the spot, I gotta remember this.’ ”

Yet, hours later, following a long fishing session, Chowdhury realized his wallet was nowhere to be found.

“(When I came) back, of course, no rock looked familiar,” he said. “I probably walked around for an hour trying to retrace my wallet. I knew that if I didn’t get it, the tide would come up… and I’d probably never see it again. After a while, I gave up.”

As a young man, Chowdhury explained that this incident ended up being a major headache.

“Everything I had was in there: my birth certificate, my status card, my SIN (social insurance) card, my care cards… everything,” said Chowdhury. “It was (such a) hassle to replace all of (my) IDs because you need some IDs to be able to prove who you are and get new ones.

“I didn’t have a lot back then and that was the last thing I needed.”

Frustrated and feeling defeated, the fisherman hopped on his bicycle and rode home empty-handed. A few weeks later, Chowdhury bought an identical wallet, stating that it was his favourite model.

Fast forward 33 years - cue Comox teen Jamie Lee, 14.

“I was fishing on the rocks with a bunch of my friends by the marina and one of my friends was going to go up to the dollar store to get us some snacks,” Lee said. “He took my other friend’s electric skateboard and started running over but he dropped the (board) controller (among the rocks) and lost it.”

As the teenager and his friends began combing through the boulders, on May 10, Lee stumbled upon a peculiar sight.

“I just started digging and digging and… I removed a rock and saw this super old wallet,” Lee said. “I told my friends ‘Guys, I just found someone’s wallet.’ I picked it up, opened it and it was super crusty. There were holes in it and it was hard to open.”

Trying to make sense of what he just found, Lee brought the wallet to a safer place and started looking at its contents.

“I slowly started pulling out all the cards I saw (Chowdhury’s) IDs,” Lee recalled. “I was shocked (so) I called my dad because this guy must have lost his wallet forever ago and I just wanted to get it back to him.”

Shortly after, Jamie’s dad, Bill Lee, slid into Chowdhury’s Facebook direct messages, informing him that his son had found his wallet.

Astounded, Chowdhury didn’t know how to react at first.

“I almost didn’t even reply to him,” he said. “It felt like somebody was trying to scam me because we didn’t know each other. (But then they) started sending me pictures (of my old IDs.)”

After noticing both he and Lee had a few friends in common, Chowdhury eventually replied.

“(Lee) happened to be coming into town. I gave him my address and 15 minutes later, there was a knock on the door and he said ‘This is yours,’ and he held out my old wallet.”

Despite sustaining some damage, Chowdhury noted that everything in his wallet was still in its rightful place and in relatively good condition, more than three decades later.

Reflecting on this event, what was once an unfortunate incident has transformed into a unique story to share with friends and family around a fire pit.

“It’s like a blast from the past,” said Chowdhury. “In fact, I was recently thinking of going (fishing) again and bringing my kids. Back then I wasn’t driving, so I rode my bike and everything was in my pockets. But now I’m going to drive out and leave anything that’s valuable, like wallets, in the car.”

— — —

In the end, Jamie and his friends successfully found the electric skateboard’s controller.

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Olivier Laurin

About the Author: Olivier Laurin

I’m a bilingual multimedia journalist from Montréal who began my journalistic journey on Vancouver Island with The Comox Valley Record in 2023.
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