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Why a Man Isn't Opening a 107-Year-Old Message in a Bottle

“I’m not going to just yet.”

Michael Thurber found what could be the oldest known message in a bottle while walking on a Vancouver Island beach. (Image via CTV video screenshot)

If you found a message in a bottle, what would be the first thing you do? Open it, right?

But that's not what Steve Thurber is doing after finding a 107-year-old message in a bottle on Vancouver Island earlier this month, according to the Times Colonist in British Columbia.

message in a bottle Michael Thurber found what could be the oldest known message in a bottle while walking on a Vancouver Island beach. (Image via CTV video screenshot)

This isn't to say he hasn't been able to glean some information from what he can see through the glass.

Inside the murky, green glass bottle with rusted metal holding on its white cap, Thurber can see cursive writing signed by an Earl Willard, dated Sept. 29, 1906. The envelope inside also reveals that the man threw the bottle into the ocean from a steamer sailing from San Francisco to Bellingham, Washington, according to the Times Colonist. It says he tossed the bottle in his third day of his journey on the Rainier.

The contents of the letter inside and for whom it was intended are still unknown.

“People want me to open it,” Thurber told the newspaper. “I’m not going to just yet.”

"It's been like that for 107 years and I'm not gonna just bust it open because I think there might be something else in there," Thurber explained further to CTV News in Canada.

message in a bottle Thurber said he's not quite ready to open the bottle. (Image via YouTube video screenshot)

With the sender's name though, some have found a bit of information about Willard's history. Here's more from the Bellingham Herald:

According to a 1900 U.S. Census, Willard was born in Saginaw, Mich. in 1889 to William C. and Issabella (Coffey) Willard, a Canadian citizen. That would have made him 17 at the time he flung the mystery bottle overboard.

By 1906, Earl Willard was living in Bellingham and working as a Teamster. His address in Bellingham is now home to the Bellingham Railway Museum. He married in 1907, moved to Vancouver, B.C. and then Seattle before settling in Los Angeles, where he worked as an electrical contractor until his death in 1948.

Although the mysterious message is intriguing, the bottle could make other news as well. At 107 years old, it could be the oldest known message in a bottle to be found. Thurber said he just has yet to contact the Guinness Book of World Records to challenge the record-holder, a bottle that was 98 years 0ld when it was found a year ago.

Watch CTV's segment about the Thurber's find on the station's website.

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