Could you make it across Canada funded by kissing folks on the street?
It appears that's what a couple was trying to accomplish in 1971. But whether they were able to remains a mystery.
Bill Pope was a student in Vancouver at that time and enjoyed taking photos while he explored the city. On one of those days, he saw a young couple with homemade signs in Gastown, likely on Water Street.
"There were lots of buskers in Gastown around that time," Pope tells Vancouver Is Awesome by phone. "A lot of interesting activity, interesting people."
These particular interesting people looked like a couple of young hippies, offering kisses for 25 cents (just under $2 in today's economy).
"Help," reads one sign. "Trying to get home to New Brunswick."
A face is drawn into the words.
There are two other signs, with the cost per kiss. On the man's there's a special: 4 for $0.75.
On the ground nearby is a hat, upside down. It appears to be empty.
"It's an interesting snippet of what might be a bigger story," Pope says.
Pope decided to snap a series of photos of the couple and got three clear photos; they joined his collection of interesting slides taken in Vancouver and there they stayed for a few decades. He remembered them, because of the unusual nature of their circumstance, but beyond that, the memories faded.
In 2015 Pope, now a lawyer on Gabriola Island, had his slides digitized. They sat again for a while until recently, when he decided to play around with photography software.
"I was able to tidy them up and get them a bit cleared up and stitched them together," he says. "Once I got to that point I thought wouldn't be neat to see if I could find out whose these two were."
'It's fun just wondering' who kissing couple is, says photographer
He's posted the photos on his website and social media, where they've begun to get shared across Canada as the search begins to find the young couple (who may or may not still be a couple).
"It would be interesting to find out who they are, what happened to them," Pope says. "But at the same time, it's fun just wondering."
"Right now I can make up what happened; once I find out my imagination will be quashed a little bit."
He notes that while they're young adults in the picture, nowadays they'd likely be in their 70s. At the same time, Vancouver has changed a lot too, he notes.
"I couldn't imagine anyone...sitting in Gastown offering kisses now," he says.
The mystery of their fate intrigues Pope, and he's not alone. His Facebook post has been shared over a thousand times, and people are leaving comments, curious about whether they made it.
"The comments I've gotten are pretty well, 'Gee I 'd like to know too,'" he says. "But nothing in the line of 'Oh, I know those two.'"
If anyone out there does recognize the couple, Pope is curious to learn what happened. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or via his website, where he's documenting the search.