During a home renovation four years ago, Cleo Neville found the trove of letters, photos and a funeral program, all documenting the last days of a long-deceased woman named Nikaiah Jaguar.
"A bunch of old furniture got pulled out, including this beautiful trunk, that naturally I latched on to, and wanted to know whose it was and wanted to know if it was up for grabs," Neville told Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio's The Early Edition.
The trunk had been left behind by a previous tenant, and Neville was told she could go ahead and take it.
Inside, Neville found boxes of keepsakes, including letters written to Jaguar by friends and family while she was in the palliative care unit at St. Paul's Hospital.
Piecing together a stranger's life
Jaguar is a stranger to Neville, but through the letters and online research, Neville has begun to piece together the woman's life.
"I can tell she was part of a very spiritual community," said Neville. From brochures she found in the trunk, it appears Jaguar was a herbologist, meditation guide and astrologer.
Jaguar may have also worked at a place called Gaia.
Neville says Jaguar died in 2003 at St. Paul's Hospital, likely of breast cancer, and a service was held at Glenhaven Memorial Chapel. Other than that, the woman's life remains largely a mystery.
"I've sent out many e-mails over the past couple of weeks and I'm slowly receiving little trickles of information back, just giving me hints and suggestions of different places to try looking for her," said Neville.
"It's very strange to have such an intimate relationship with this woman, who has passed on, who I have absolutely no knowledge of."
Searching for mystery woman's son
Neville is trying to find someone who does have a connection to these items.
She says many of the letters make reference to someone named Isaac Jaguar, who may be Nikaiah Jaguar's son. She hasn't managed to track him down, but her theory is that the trunk, and its contents belong to him.
Neville took out an ad on craigslist in hopes someone could put her in touch with a friend or family member of Jaguar.
"I would really like to solve this, because these have been in my possession for about four years now, and every time I'm going through the trunk, I look at this box of things that don't belong to me," she said..
"I just don't think I would be satisfied not trying to figure this out."
Neville says anyone with information can e-mail her at email@example.com.Suggest a correction