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

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

Paul Lewis is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Arts Advocate of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore driftwood sculptor inspired by Esquimalt Lagoon

Paul Lewis is the 2021 Arts Advocate of the Year

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Cathy Armstrong, executive director of the Land Conservancy, Paul Nursey CEO of Destination Greater Victoria and Saanich Coun. Susan Brice helped to kick off the annual Greater Victoria Flower Count at Abkhazi Garden Monday. This year, the flower count is less about rubbing the region’s weather in the rest of Canada’ faces, and more about extending a bouquet of compassion and love. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
2021 Greater Victoria Flower Count sows seeds of compassion

Friendly flower count competition runs from March 3 to 10

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read