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A Surprising Find on a Nova Scotia Beach

11-year-old Dallas Goreham of Woods Harbour, Nova Scotia was at the beach with his father and grandmother, looking for sea glass, when he found something quite different–a plastic bottle containing letter nearly twice as old as himself. As with any good message-in-a-bottle story, there was a bit of mystery in the bottle, too. The 18 year old message in a bottle was signed by Rita who included a non-functional email address. But who was Rita? And where was she?

The 18 year old message in a bottle found by Dallas Goreham.

The 18 year old message in a bottle found by Dallas Goreham. Photo: Goreham Family.

Dallas Goreham with the message in a bottle he found from Rita Ganim.

11-year-old Dallas Goreham with the 18-year-old message in a bottle he found from Rita Ganim. Photo: Goreham Family.

Sender of 18 Year Old Message in a Bottle Found

Dallas and his mom Tara started out by emailing the address on the message, according to the Glouscester Times. The email bounced back because the address was no longer in use. But they didn’t give up there–instead, they began to scour the internet. Eventually, Tara Goreham found a promising lead in an old Buffalo News story that appeared to involve Rita. So, she reached out to the Buffalo News, who in turn found Rita, and put her in touch with the Gorehams. The rest is–well, not “history,” exactly, because it’s still unfolding! Dallas told WIVB that he would like to visit Rita in New York, so who knows? As Rita said to the Gloucester Times, “It’s just been such a wave of excitement. But I’d love to meet them. I assume they’re lovely people. I thought it was very gracious of the mother to write to me.”

Memories and Connections Through a Message in a Bottle

Speaking of Rita, imagine her surprise hearing back from her note 20 years later!

“Can you imagine just throwing that little bottle, what would have turned out this way?” she told WIVB. Back when she sent it, she was simply visiting her daughter in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

“We don’t get around to the ocean that much,” Ganim, 80, told the Gloucester Times. “I decided I’m not going to be boring. I just said I’d love to throw a bottle with a message inside into the water, but I didn’t want to hurt the environment…I didn’t want to put down my phone number,” she said. “I was afraid I’d get some pirate with his teeth missing and a patch over his eye calling me up.”

It seems she sent her message, and then totally forgot about it.

Rita’s message was lovely in its simplicity and kindness. The full letter reads:

August 19, 2000

Hi “friend,” I am a visitor to Gloucester. I hope you will let me know if / when you find this.

Cheers, Rita



What I so love about Rita’s message is that it reveals its author to be curious and kind. She just wanted to know where the bottle ended up and who found it. Well, Dallas found it, connecting these two people in the unlikeliest way. That connection can be the seed of friendship, which, to me, is magic.

Dallas’s mom enjoyed solving the mystery, too, and spoke to the Boston Globe about the experience.

“To be honest,” she told the Boston Globe, “He thought that she may not be living because of the writing – not because he knew her age or anything, but he said, ‘Only old people write in cursive'”. Ha!

18 year old message in a bottle start and end points

Start and end points for Rita’s 18 year old message in a bottle. Doesn’t look far? Try swimming it and get back to me!

But Dallas and Tara Goreham did find Rita, and now they are connected in this impossible, lovely, magic way. It is wonderful, I think, to realize that there is no other possible way this 11-year-old boy and this 80-year-old woman could ever have met. And yet, here we are! Another connection, another impossible friendship made real through a message in a bottle 🙂

OH! Have you checked out the story of the 1985 message in a bottle from Nova Scotia that my dad found? Took us a minute, but we solved the mystery! Click here for that story.

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PS – Here is the lovely story put together by WIVB on this. Check out their full article here!