Retired military personnel didn’t know what a century-old time capsule would contain, and after opening it yesterday, they still don’t.

A heavily oxidized coin and crumpled papers, part of which turned to dust when touched, were the only items inside the tin can.

When the Royal Canadian Military Institute moved into its current location on University Avenue in 1907, Earl Grey, then governor general of Canada, laid the cornerstone in a ceremony Aug. 29. He placed a time capsule inside.

Retired Lt.-Col. Arthur G. Manvell, honorary librarian for the institute, speculated on the identity of the contents.

“Well, I don’t think it’s a coin of the realm,” Manvell said. “It’s probably a token or medallion of some sort.”

The rolled up papers, with no visible ink, will be more difficult to identify.

“They’re so fragile and disintegrated that maybe we’ll never know,” Manvell said.

The plan is to have a conservator examine and refurbish the items, if possible, according to retired Lt.-Col. Bruce Savage, honorary curator at the institute.