On September 8 of this year, the Lillooet News published an article from Cara Demare about a Bralorne time traveler.
Demare wrote about a picture taken in April 1941 at the re-opening of the South Forks Bridge in the Bralorne area. In that picture is a tall man who many people claim is a time traveler because, they point out, he is dressed unlike anyone around him in the photo.
This picture caused a frenzy on the Internet and, according to Demare, has received over a million hits. It also brought a Russian news team from Moscow to Lillooet and Bralorne last week to further investigate the time traveler photo.
The three men, reporter Alexey Bakharev, cameraman Egor Litvinov and senior producer Evgenie Balamutenko, all from the News Television (NTV) Channel's show "Profession: Reporter Show" arrived in Lillooet on Wednesday, Nov. 24. They met with Sue Bell of the Lillooet Museum at the Lillooet News office where Bell showed them the archived Bridge River-Lillooet newspapers from April 1941.
The news crew only saw the picture on the Internet a few months ago and wanted to come investigate immediately but they had to wait for their visa's to be processed. "As soon as we got them we booked a flight," said Balamutenko.
"It's very interesting for us," said Bakharev. "This photo is like a sensation on the internet, the Russian internet." He said he believed that the larger TV stations such as BBC and CNN had both showed the picture as well.
"It's one of the most discussed photos in the world," said Balamutenko.
There are quite a lot of time traveler photos, but Balamutenko said the reason they picked the Bralorne photo is that there is a lot of history behind it.
"We can investigate it," said Bakharev.
'It's a close community," said Balamutenko. "It's easier to get to speak to the people. There are still some people who were actually witnesses of this event."
The crew has found one witness who was at the event, but that person was 11 years old at the time. Balamutenko said that although the witness remembers the event, he does not recall the gentleman in the photo.
Bakharev and Balamutenko examined the 1941 news stories with Bell. The articles spoke of the bridge opening but there were no accompanying photos.
Bell said when she first saw the photo in the Lillooet News she thought it had been superimposed and that she hadn't changed her opinion of that. She and the TV crew discussed the glasses and clothing worn by the tall gentleman and Bell said "To me he definitely stands out as a little strange, not fitting in the picture quite perfectly."
Translating for Bakharev, Balamutenko said, "A lot of people who have some knowledge in photo shopping and web design say this (the photo) hasn't been superimposed. If it has been then a real expert was inserting this guy into the photo."
Part of the mystery about the tall stranger may be solved in an article Bell then found in the April 11, 1941 paper. It read:
"Visiting his uncle and aunt, L.A.C. Edward Russel came to stay his leave with the Creamers. Two and a half years has he put in with the RCAF and his duties are navigating. L.A.C. Russel stands 6' 4-1/2" and expects to become a pilot officer when they make cockpits larger."
Bell and the TV crew discussed some of the possibilities including the fact that Russel was tall as was the man in the photo. Bakharev said they had talked to a professional about the strange sunglasses the gentleman was wearing. Their professional was of the opinion that the glasses could be part of the era as pilots wore similar glasses in the 1940's.
(At the time of writing this article, the Bridge River-Lillooet News has not been able to locate Edward Russel or the Creamers.)
Before leaving for Bralorne to further investigate the photo Balamutenko and Bakharev were asked if they felt it was a time traveler in the photograph.
"No, of course not." Balamutenko said. He felt the photo was real and the gentleman was an actual person from 1941.
Bakharev admitted he believed it was an actual time traveler. He said he had talked to some scientists in Russia who were experts in quantum physics. "They told me that theoretically it is possible." He further explained that leading scientists from all over the world had a convention on quantum physics in 2006 and they proved that theoretically it is possible to time travel.
"The problem is just in engineering this time machine," Balamutenko translated. "Nobody knows how."
Bakharev thinks that maybe the time traveler is from years in the future when a time machine has been constructed.
This story is interesting to their Russian viewers because, as Balamutenko said, "People like historical detective stories. Puzzles. The audience sometimes gets tired watching the hard news so they want to see something special."
"It's like a Christmas story," said Bakharev. "Because people want to believe. Perhaps they want to change something in their personal past. They believe because they want to believe."
As to the ending of their story Balamutenko said: "We will try to leave this question unanswered. We will try to do that because people do not want the answers."
"They should chose," Bakharev said.
After spending time with Bell and the archives, the film crew spent a couple of days in Lillooet interviewing several local people including George Vanderwolf and Bill Fowler. They then travelled to Bralorne to continue their investigation there.
While the Lillooet News has not heard from the Russian film crew on the results of their further investigation, we did receive an on-line post from a Bralorne resident stating: "As they (the film crew) were going through all the photo albums in the Museum, they discovered the original photograph. They were amazed and it (the discovery) completely changed their story line after agreeing that there is no way this photo has been tampered with."
The news show is scheduled to be aired on Saturday, Dec. 4 on NTV.