In the last quarter of a century, Bunny has travelled to Belfast, Berlin and New York, flown on military jets and helicopters, even stowed away to Afghanistan.
But it appeared Bunny had taken her last flight when she fell off a vintage Second World War bomber flying 610 metres above Hamilton.
Bunny is a stuffed animal that Victoria Maginnis, a 26-year-old Toronto resident, has kept since she was an infant. Ms. Maginnis didn’t think she would see Bunny again after her prized toy was lost on Nov. 9 while her father, Jim, was aboard an Avro Lancaster flying visitors to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
But there was a happy ending that showcased the power of social media, people’s altruism and the reputation of Canadians for niceness. Strangers helped and eventually Bunny was found on the roof of a nursing home in Burlington.
“It’s incredibly touching,” Ms. Maginnis said in an interview.
“It has reinforced to me just how friendly and generous of spirit the Canadian people really are!!” her father said in an e-mail to The Globe.
On Saturday, Ms. Maginnis and her friend MarieAnn O’Neill drove to the CAMA Woodlands long-term-care home. They met Kevin Vanderwal and Rob Pearce, the two employees who were doing maintenance on the roof when they spotted Bunny. There were hugs, smiles, selfies. She went home with Bunny.
“The main thing that we’ve got from this experience is you know how lovely people could be,” Ms. Maginnis said.
Ms. Maginnis is from Britain and got Bunny when she was a few months old. The toy stayed with her as she moved to wherever her father, a Royal Air Force squadron leader, was posted.
It became a tradition to take Bunny to uncommon places. Her father flew Bunny aboard Buccaneer jets and Wessex helicopters. In 2009, when he deployed to Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan, his daughter sneaked Bunny into his pack – “I wanted to make sure he had a little piece of home with him.”
When her father visited last month, she booked him a flight aboard the Lancaster. He took Bunny and set her up for a photo. There was a gap in the turret window and Bunny was sucked out.
“Telling Victoria that we had lost Bunny was probably the hardest thing that I’ve had to do in my life,” he said.
Although her father was skeptical about social media, Ms. Maginnis posted a call for help on Facebook. “Absolutely zero chance of finding this but worth a shot,” she wrote.
Her post was widely shared and people offered flight data and wind speed records to help pinpoint the toy. Katie Job, who grew up in the area, calculated how far the bunny would travel after falling from the Lancaster. She and several others suggested locations and went scouting themselves.
Ms. Job recalled that she was out looking along a road when another motorist slowed down and asked “Are you looking for the bunny?”
The word had gotten around. So Mr. Vanderwal and Mr. Pearce had no trouble identifying Bunny on Nov. 25.
Ms. Maginnis works for Mirvish Productions and she thanked the two with tickets to Come From Away – which, she noted, is a musical about helping strangers.
“So it’s all sort of come full circle, you know, just people doing things to be nice. It’s incredibly heartwarming.”
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