Hoaxes & Rumors

Classic Urban Legend: The Time Traveling Hipster

Classic Urban Legend: The Time Traveling Hipster
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A photo allegedly shows a modern hipster who traveled back in time to the 1940’s. Is the photo real or fake?

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The photograph has been circulating since around 2010, with suggestions that the casually-dressed man’s appearance is too modern to fit into the a 1940’s setting. Here is one caption which has circulated with the photo in 2013:

In 1940, a mysterious man was photographed in Canada wearing what seems to be modern clothing and carrying a camera. Its authenticity was proven by NTV in Russia in 2010.

Is this a man with incredibly modern style? Or evidence of time travel?


The Photo

The image is not Photoshopped, and the original can be found at the Bralorne Pioneer Museum in British Columbia, Canada. The people in the photo were attending the re-opening of the South Fork Bridge in British Columbia.


The logo on the “modern” shirt worn by the man in the image is probably that of the Montreal Maroons hockey team, an NHL team which existed until 1938. Thus, it would be more likely to see someone wearing that shirt in 1940 than in the 2010’s.


One would expect to see this shirt in 1940.

The man’s knitted sweater also doesn’t indicate anything out of the ordinary for the 1940’s.

The Camera

The “modern” camera in the man’s hands is not clearly shown, but Kodak did produce cameras of this size at the time. Another man in the image is also holding a camera.

NTV Video

The caption above is correct in stating that the photo was deemed authentic by NTV in Russia, as seen in the video below:

Sunglasses, and the erroneous Stanwyk comparison

Sunglasses with side shades were common in 1940, so these would not have been unusual.

In their attempts to debunk the time traveler theory, some writers have used a photo of Barbara Stanwyck wearing sunglasses in the 1940 film Double Indemnity. If you look closely, however, the glasses are not the same. Stanwyck’s glasses are actually casting a shadow on the side of her face, which – from a distance – resemble the side shades in the sunglasses worn by the man in the 1940 photo.

Barbara Stanwyk's sunglasses are merely casting a shadow which resemble the man's side shades.

Barbara Stanwyk’s sunglasses are merely casting a shadow which resemble the man’s side shades.

Google Trends

In chart below shows search interest in this story. As you can see, it was around December 2011 when the story first went viral online. It has had several peaks in interest since that time.

Bottom Line

The man’s casual attire in comparison to those around him have led some to claim he is a time traveler captured on film. Casual attire aside, there is nothing contained in the photo which would have been out of the ordinary in 1940.


The YouTube video below summarizes the information in this article.


Updated December 10, 2015
Originally published July 2013

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