A 40-year old mystery was solved in about 30 seconds recently as a tourist passing through a small town in Alberta, Canada literally unlocked the city's "uncrackable" time capsule, a 2,000 pound metal safe from the now-closed Brunswick Hotel. Stephen Mills of Fort McMurray in Alberta was touring the town museum in Vermilion with his family when the safe and its story peaked his interest in trying to crack the code himself.  Mills told The Washington Post, "I was like, I gotta get down and try this for a laugh.  I was doing it for the kids, trying to be like in the movies more or less." Mills, a welder and machinist noticed the dial on the safe went from zero to 60, so in his head, he worked out the combination as probably 20-40-60.  Mills says, "I took the numbers out of thin air, like right out of my head.  20 three times to the right, 40 two times to the left and 60 one time to the right, and tried the door and it cracked open."

                                                                                            Photo: Vermilion  Standard 

    The safe, with no known combination written anywhere to unlock it, had made its rounds in the area of Vermilion after the closing of the Brunswick Hotel in the 1970's, but was ultimately donated to the town museum.  Tom Kibblewhite, a long-time volunteer at the Vermilion museum says they've tried unsuccessfully for years to track down the combination to unlock the safe, calling old Brunswick Hotel employees, the safe manufacturer and several locksmiths.  On the museum tour, Mills told Kibblewhite that they had an exciting mystery on their hands. Mills said, "'That's quite the time capsule that you have there and nobody knows what's in it'." 

    Mills' quick thinking solved 40 years of wondering what was inside for Kibblewhite who told CBC Radio, "We were hoping there were gold bars or sacks of gold or something."  Instead, they were left with dusty scraps of paper from the late 70's with an order for a mushroom hamburger scratched on a waitress pad, and a $9.00 employee pay slip. Mills says, "There was no way to be disappointed when you had so much excitement at the fact that it actually opened. It was just disbelief that it actually worked!"  The museum plans to keep the safe's door wide open from now on.


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