Sorting through tens of thousands of items a day, there isn’t much that staff at Victoria’s Value Village haven’t seen, but an item donated earlier this week still managed to surprise them.
Attached to one side of a stiff piece of cardboard was a navy, white and red bow tie. On the opposite side, a letter was glued to the surface – a letter signed by Lester B. Pearson almost exactly a year before he became prime minister.
The pricer who found the unusual piece immediately brought it to her managers, who excitedly agreed it could be a piece of Canadian history.
“We thought it was super unique and interesting,” store manager Jacqui Ferguson said.
Upon closer inspection, they found a small handwritten note at the top left of the piece of cardboard that appears to explain the bow tie and letter.
“Wanting an original cover for my booklet I wrote a letter to the Right Honourable Lester Pearson asking for one of his bow ties, which he sent me with this letter,” it reads.
Below it is the letter, typed on House of Commons letterhead and dated April 13, 1962. It reads:
“Dear Cathie: Your idea is indeed an original one. I am enclosing one of my bow ties, which I send with my good wishes for success in your project and in your studies.”
It signs off with a “With best regards, Yours sincerely,” followed by a signature.
At the time of date on the letter, Pearson was leader of the Liberal party and the official opposition to a Progressive Conservative government. Just over a year later, on April 22, 1963, Pearson was sworn in as prime minister, a position he held until 1968. During his time in the public eye, he was always well known for his bow ties.
Ferguson said the Value Village team hasn’t taken steps yet to authenticate the letter, but it’s hoping by spreading word about the discovery online and through the media they will find the original owner or her family.
The letter is addressed to a Cathie Butterfield who, at the time, lived in North Vancouver. Ferguson is intrigued by the mystery surrounding Butterfield’s project and how something so interesting could have made it across the ocean and into the hands of a thrift shop.
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