Patricia Pincock never met her great grandfather.

She only knew John Hadley from stories passed down through her family, like how he left his wife and seven-year-old son in order to serve his country, and how he had only been overseas for a short time when disaster struck.

“There was an explosion and he was killed instantly. It’s kind of sad. He wasn’t one of the lucky ones to come back,” Pincock says. She visited his grave in Belgium two years ago.

A few weeks ago she received a phone call from a genealogist. He asked her about a medal that belonged to her great grandfather. Among all the stories she was told about Hadley, not one had mentioned a medal.

“I thought, ‘a medal? I don’t know anything about these medals.’ That was exciting.”

The medal has a quite the story of its own. It was given to Hadley and it is believed to have eventually made it into the hands of his wife.

Fourteen years ago, Peter Chagnon found the medal in the Barrie rooming house he owned. He just found it again recently and handed it over to a local legion branch. The branch then turned it over to Clint Lovell’s history class at Eastview Secondary School.

His class started investigating. They were able to find out how Hadley died, but struggled to find where his family was. That’s when they reached out to the media and genealogists to get the word out.

That’s when they got the lead they were looking for. Pincock and Lovell connected, thanks to that fateful phone call from the genealogist.

“She sent a picture of her at her great grandfather’s grave. Just shivers down the spine, we knew that we’d found her,” Lovell says.

On Wednesday, Pincock made the trip from Oakville to visit the history detectives at Eastview. She was presented with her long lost family heirloom. 

“It’s amazing actually, even that the medal exist,” she says. “That it was found in a rooming house, by the owner of the rooming house, that’s amazing. We don’t even know how it could have got there.”

 “This is a story that’s been 100 years long, and to have it back to where it should be, really means a lot to John Hadley’s great granddaughter. We really feel like we did good by him today,” says Lovell.

Now Pincock has another story about her great grandfather, one she plans to share with the rest of her family over Christmas.

“I think it will be kind of exciting for them to see a medal and then even read a little more and learn about him.”