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Mystery woman found: The woman whose picture was discovered behind a print of the S.S. Kyle living in Alberta

Rebecca Benedict in Alberta got a phone call from her sisters in Nova Scotia saying everybody was looking for her. The portrait on the left slipped out from behind a photo of a ship when Port Wade’s Paul Sarty accidently dropped the frame on the floor last week. His daughter-in-law Kristen Prouse of Waterville, Kings County, posted on Facebook and started a search for the ‘mystery woman.’ The Annapolis County Spectator did a story and it was seen by Benedict’s family in Nova Scotia. The portrait on the right is Benedict today.
Rebecca Benedict in Alberta got a phone call from her sisters in Nova Scotia saying everybody was looking for her. The portrait on the left slipped out from behind a photo of a ship when Port Wade’s Paul Sarty accidently dropped the frame on the floor last week. His daughter-in-law Kristen Prouse of Waterville, Kings County, posted on Facebook and started a search for the ‘mystery woman.’ The Annapolis County Spectator did a story and it was seen by Benedict’s family in Nova Scotia. The portrait on the right is Benedict today.

PORT WADE, N.S.  - It took less than 48 hours to find the mystery woman in a portrait discovered behind an Annapolis County man’s framed print of a ship.

She’s originally from Wolfville, lived in Sydney, and is alive and well and living out west.

"My name is still Rebecca Benedict,” she said in response to Annapolis County Spectator questions emailed to her by Kristen Prouse, daughter-in-law of Paul Sarty who found the photo. “I am now 65 years of age and living in Central Alberta on a gorgeous equestrian center with my husband, Paul Devlin, two cats, three dogs and 11 beautiful Dutch Warmblood show horses (all my friends will love to know that. I can hear them say: ‘That’s Becky!’)”

The only mystery left is how her 17- by 21-inch portrait was placed behind a photograph of the Newfoundland ship the S. S. Kyle. Benedict - and that's one mystery she doesn’t know the answer to.

[Port Wade man’s mystery woman hiding behind Newfoundland ship has Facebook buzzing]

“I have no clue how that happened,” she said. “I learned the photo was found when I had a delightful call from my two darling sisters who were having one hilarious time speculating how that portrait got there! We had fun conjuring up scenarios and came up with some pretty fanciful spins!”

She said she is rarely on Facebook anymore because she believes social media has taken a rather ugly turn these days.

“Just too many echo chambers formed by people who are not thinking beyond their own very centered worlds,” she said.

The accident

Finding the photo in the first place was an accident.

The portrait of Benedict slipped out from behind the framed photo of the S. S. Kyle last week when Sarty dropped it and the back came off, leaving him to speculate who she might be. When Prouse, of Waterville, heard about the mystery photo, she thought of Facebook immediately.

She posted the photo of the ship and the portrait of the woman on Facebook May 22 explaining what happened and that they were trying to find out who the woman was. Within 24 hours there were 219 shares and by Wednesday morning another 80 shares.

“We'd love to get this back to the rightful owner or their family,” Prouse said in her post.

The 64-year-old Sarty had bought the framed print of the S. S. Kyle about three years ago at a yard sale somewhere in Annapolis County. As it turns out, Benedict and all of her siblings were born in the Annapolis Valley.

Prouse even created a Facebook Page devoted to the search for Benedict. www.facebook.com/thematronofthesskyle

The Photo

Benedict doesn’t remember how old she was when the photo was taken but believes she was in her mid-20s.

“Warren Gordon took this photo at his studio in Sydney,” she said. “I bought the dress at Jacobson’s Ladies’ Wear on Charlotte Street! I loved it.”

She said the photo was not taken on any special occasion that she can remember and she’s not sure what ring she was wearing, but it wasn’t a wedding band – although she was married at the time.

Benedict has one son who is an equine veterinarian with his own practice and another who is an RCMP officer. Both are in British Columbia. And she has grandchildren – including a granddaughter who she’s told is a lot like her.

“My thoughts of what was happening assuredly took me back to the kind spirited lifestyle of my upbringing in Nova Scotia,” she said when asked what she thought of Prouse’s search for her. “I truly miss my brothers, sisters and friends. The Maritimes has so much to offer – the most shining example is this generous adventurous up-taking to find the ‘mystery lady’. I am truly no mystery, but do so hope a true ambassador for Nova Scotia where ever I go. The world needs Maritime kindness!!”

Impressed

In her correspondence with Prouse, Benedict praised the Waterville woman.

“I am oh so very impressed that you would return that photo,” she said. “Perhaps my granddaughter (named Sydney by the way) would love to have it someday when she can tell this story. She’s been delighted to hear of it and that Gramma is a ‘Mystery Lady in Pink.’ Sydney will be 11 soon, so a fun story for a girl who loves Anne of Green Gables!!”

She loved Prouse’s spirit.

“And you, Kristen, are a treasure!!,” she said. “What fun to jump down rabbit holes!! Keep that up!!"

As for Prouse?

“Rebecca has been so very kind and generous with her time in helping us with a bit of closure to this adventure!,” she said on the Facebook Page. “A big thanks to everyone who helped share this and turn the Maritimes on their head helping us to locate her.”

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