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History of garden club mystery jug brought to light

Mystery jug turned up in a box on a shelf belonging to John Coyle. He contacted the Campbell River Garden Club who put the word out to try and identify the item. An article in the Mirror alerted the daughter of the last person to win the jug. - Photo submitted
Mystery jug turned up in a box on a shelf belonging to John Coyle. He contacted the Campbell River Garden Club who put the word out to try and identify the item. An article in the Mirror alerted the daughter of the last person to win the jug.
— image credit: Photo submitted

A basement clean up that unearthed a silver memorial jug has kept some local garden club members puzzled for weeks.

A recent article in the Mirror created a flurry of emails and phone calls that soon resolved  the mystery surrounding the trophy. The query began when a local retired pulp mill employee, John Coyle, contacted the chair of the present day Campbell River Garden Club, Elizabeth deMunck. He told her he had been cleaning up his shelves and discovered the jug in a box along with some other items. They had been given to him  by his friend, Bob Smith, many years ago. Prior to his death in 2010, Smith was tidying up some belongings and felt that Coyle would take good care of the boxes’ contents.

When Evelyn Parsons read the article she knew immediately that jug must have been the one her daughter, Shirley Smith, was awarded so many years ago.

“I phoned her immediately and she was as surprised as I was that the missing jug had created so much interest.”

Shirley Smith won the silver jug at an award ceremony presided over by the Chamber’s Tourism & Publicity Committee. She was a winner three years in a row, 1977, 1978, and 1979  when she was a member of the Tyee Garden Club.

“Actually it was known as the Tyee Rose Club and the vase had been passed on to our organization by a previous garden club,” explained Smith.

She said that when the Tyee Rose Club folded she wasn’t aware of a similar organization to which she could pass it on so the jug sat neglected for 37 years.

The Tyee Rose Club was the successor to the Campbell River Horticultural Association founded in 1956. The minutes of those meetings, now archived at the museum, show that the vase was first  presented in 1961 to the  board.  It had been donated  by the Carnegie family in memory of Theo Morison, whose husband Robert was chairperson of the organization. The vase was inscribed Theo Morison Memorial Award. Mrs. Morison had been a nurse at the hospital. She and her husband owned the garden nursery located on Dogwood St. at the bottom of the Elm Street hill, the present day site of Home Hardware. Smith was pleased that Coyle passed the cup on to this present club. Otherwise she would not have known what had become of her award .

“I’m grateful the club members had made an effort to publicize the existence of the trophy. I would definitely be delighted if the club would re-establish the annual tradition of awarding the trophy to a resident who excelled at gardening,” said Smith.

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