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

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan hottest real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

The municipality of Summerland is considering a 1.65 per cent property tax increase for 2021. The increase is lower than tax increases in previous years. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland taxes expected to rise by 1.65%

Increases also forecast for Summerland utility rates

Maggie Fowler, left, and Gabby Friesen of the Keremeos branch of the Royal Canadian Legion receiving monies from the federal government under the Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund. (Submitted)
Keremeos Royal Canadian Legion branch receives federal support

The funds are part of $20 million in support to veterans’ organizations across Canada

One Okanagan man bought and delivered enough food for 10 Christmas dinners for families and individuals in need. (Bruce Shouldice photo)
Okanagan man makes a difference at Christmas

Columnist Carole Fawcett shines light on Good Samaritan

The Peach is looking ready for its COVID Christmas. (Monique Tamminga/Black Press)
T’was the night before Christmas in the Okanagan

It’s true that this year has had sadness aplenty, we’ll never forget the year 2020

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media/FILE)
Vehicle found abandoned after fleeing Kelowna RCMP, avoiding spike belt

Police believed at the time vehicle was tied to alleged shooting in West Kelowna

West Kelowna RCMP are investigating reports of gunfire in the 1700-block of Ross Road. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating reports of gunfire

West Kelowna RCMP said the incident occurred on Jan. 14

Penticton’s 7-Eleven is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the company announced Jan. 15, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton 7-Eleven closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The store will re-open “on or before” Jan. 23

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

With a second case of COVID-19 confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, parents were advised Thursday, Jan. 14, that the school could be closed for a week or so. (Contributed)
Closure considered after four cases of COVID-19 identified at Salmon Arm school

South Canoe Elementary principal grateful for concern and support shown by public

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
1 month closure planned for Highway 1 near Golden

This closure is expected from April 12 until May 14. Others are planned in the future.

Most Read