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CALGARY, Alberta – In a hidden room beneath the garage in a house on the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta, a wife believes that she has found the largest collection of engineering artifacts in Canada’s history, including a bust of James Maxwell, a box of unopened HP reverse polish notation calculators, and even a partially built machine that his wife believes was designed to measure IQ at arm’s length.
Authorities were called in when the wife did not recognize any of the trappings belonging to her husband.
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Some 1800 objects where found in the home located in Cochrane, a bedroom community just west of Calgary, and authorities suspect that the artifacts belong to various high-ranking engineers and some geologists who have worked in Alberta’s oil and gas industry over the last 150 years.
“Our first investigations indicate that most of these items are stolen, and the balance made by the man of the house,”
RCMP lead investigator Rick Bullrick said on Monday, saying that some pieces where accompanied by old photographs.
“The photos were of the subjects who owned the objects and were used in a twisted way to pay homage to them for their generous ‘donations.'”
Among the items where toys that Bullrick said would have been used to indoctrinate children into engineering studies, along with the following:
- photographs of prominent local area geologists with moustaches and noses, superimposed on them with sharpie markers;
- voodoo-type dolls in the likeness of various engineers holding senior management and executive positions, both past and present;
- a collection of Canadian Tire circulars, flyers, and holiday catalogs that is worthy of being showcased in the Smithsonian;
- a milk crate full of unopened calculators believed to have been stolen from Radio Shack, including a first generation HP 28, a HP 48s, along with six 48gx models fully equipped with expandable memory cards;
- a binder full of neatly organized cutouts from the bra and underwear section of Sears and Consumers Distributing catalogs dating back to 1969, with many of the pages having a brittle and crunchy texture;
- a copy of Social Skills for Dummies that was still in its original plastic wrapping;
- a 500lb collection of take-out condiment packages dating back to 1971;
- blueprints for an ego-powered spaceship that was partially constructed in the 650 square foot secret room;
- a duo tang full of unsent love notes written to female engineering students at the UofC from 1982 to 1986;
- thousands of M&Ms physically arranged in a colour-coded histogram alongside notes indicating the engineer was trying to see which colour has been the most common over the past 5 years, and
- roughly $19,674 worth of coins believed to have been collected from the ‘have a penny, leave a penny’ and tip jars from establishments spanning southern and central Alberta.
Police say one of the most compelling pieces is a bust of James Clerk Maxwell meticulously hand-carved from a solid piece of sandstone and disturbingly covered with what investigators believe to be the petrified skin of geologists harvested from world-renowned Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation graveyard.
RCMP did not identify the collector who remains free but under investigation and surveillance by a federal judge.