Adrian Pearce and his ex high school girl friend Vicki Allen open the 47 year old gift, a book called Love Is, which she gave him when they broke up in 1971, in St. Albert, Alta., on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. 47 years ago Adrian Pearce was given the gift the same day Vicki Allen broke up with him and he never opened it until now. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Girl opens Christmas present she gave to boy when she dumped him in 1971

Adrian Pearce, now a married father of two, received the small present from his highschool sweetheart

A man in Edmonton who made international headlines for holding onto a wrapped Christmas gift from a high-school girlfriend who dumped him nearly 50 years ago finally learned what it was on Thursday when she travelled to the city and opened it for him.

Adrian Pearce, now a married father of two, received the small present wrapped in shiny, purple paper shortly before Christmas 1971 from Vicki Allen, who was his very first sweetheart at George S. Henry Secondary School in Toronto.

But when she handed it to him, she broke up with him. Dejected, Pearce returned to his family’s home, threw it under the Christmas tree and vowed never to open it.

The story last December about the unopened gift appeared on TV, newspapers and websites around the world. And as Allen stood on a stage in a packed cafe northwest of the city and peeled away the paper with Pearce standing beside her and his wife, Janet, in the audience, she herself didn’t know what she’d see because it was so long ago and she’d forgotten.

“Oh no!” Allen exclaimed when she finally saw. “I can’t give that to him!”

It was a small book called “Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling” with cartoons and sayings about love.

“The irony is extreme,” Allen cried.

The event was a fundraiser for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, a local charity that provides Christmas meals to families in need.

“Love is all of us, all of you, here tonight for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton,” Pearce responded.

Days after Pearce’s story appeared last Christmas, a friend who knew them both in high school sent Allen a link to one of the many articles written about it. Allen responded by clicking “like” on some of Pearce’s Facebook posts, and Peace figured out who it was. They got in touch, and eventually Pearce and his wife were invited to meet her where she now lives in British Columbia.

They learned that they all got along. They also learned the reason Allen dumped Pearce all those years ago.

It turned out that while Allen was shopping for Pearce’s gift at the mall, she met another boy and he kissed her on the spot.

“It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I kissed him back,” Allen said.

She said she knew Pearce would find out she had betrayed him. She knew it was over between them.

“It was a very innocent relationship. We were in high school,” Allen explained about her relationship with Pearce.

“I didn’t know he felt as intensely as he did.”

For years, even after he’d married, Pearce still placed the dog-eared gift under the tree every Christmas. He enjoyed the mystery of it, but eventually his wife put her foot down when their daughter, then five, wanted to open it.

“She said, ‘Daddy, when you die, I’ll be able to open it then, right?’ I told him he could keep it, but we just didn’t want (the gift) out in public,” she explained.

“I’m pretty secure in our relationship. I’ve never been jealous.”

Allen admitted some trepidation about meeting Pearce and his wife. Was he a stalker? He was a nice boy in 1971, but maybe, she thought, ”he’s probably become an expert axe murder.”

Some people had accused Allen of being a terrible person for giving Pearce a Christmas present and then breaking up with him. Pearce has also been called everything from “Heartbroke Bloke” in the British press to “moron” in one New York newspaper.

He’s since written a book about the whole experience, and his wife and Allen contributed chapters.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic that we’re friends. My wife is friends with (Vicki),” Pearce told the crowd.

“We’re in a fantastic place where all you can feel is love.”

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Bonnie Henry given a Gitxsan name: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Smithers woman awarded $55K in RCMP excessive force suit

Irene Joseph alleged false arrest and assault and battery related to a 2014 incident in Smithers

Cannabis shop soon to open in Witset

Indigenous Bloom shop to be followed by cannabis cultivation facility in closed down sawmill

Celebrations continue for Tsilhqot’in Nation after court victory against Taskeo Mines Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada upholds 2014 decision rejecting New Prosperity mine on May 14, 2020

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read