"I had no idea there was something that big in the box," said Gloria Lee, whose husband Martin was a cancer researcher at the Toronto hospital before his death in 2009.
Inside the box, which had been re-sealed by its original owner, Lee found $10,000 in cash and a bar of gold worth more than $7,000.
"I was in shock. I was in total shock," she said.
Inside the box there was a note from an elderly Scarborough resident, noting that he wanted to donate the money and gold to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Hospital never checked box
The man lives in a community housing building and wants to remain anonymous.
Officials at the hospital said they never thought to look inside.
"We don't get a chance to open every gift that comes in. This one looked sealed, we put it in the storeroom to be used for any number of the special events that we have in a year," Kevin Shea, spokesperson for the cancer foundation.
With the memory of her husband in mind, the thought of keeping the money and gold never occurred to Lee.
"He would be proud of me that I continue his legacy," she said.
Before his death, Martin Lee’s cancer research was using nano-particles from gold to treat tumours.