A letter and bow tie donated to Victoria’s Value Village last week did, in fact, belong to former prime minister Lester B. Pearson, his grandson told Black Press Media.
Michael Pearson, head of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s global health group, said his grandfather had a very distinctive signature and he automatically recognized it when he saw the Black Press Media article.
The historical artifacts were found by a pricer at the downtown Value Village who excitedly brought them to her store managers. Upon closer inspection, the managers determined the letter was from Pearson to a North Vancouver woman who had requested he send along one of his infamous bow ties for her to use as a unique school project booklet cover.
The letter is typed on official House of Commons letterhead and dated April 13, 1962, just over a year before Pearson was sworn in as prime minister.
“He was a very generous man, he’d constantly give stuff away to people. So I’m not surprised at all that he reacted to this request by absolutely fulfilling it,” Michael said.
Pearson was also an extremely busy man, but simply loved taking time to correspond with Canadians, his grandson said. When Pearson was prime minister (1963-68), he would walk home from parliament back to 24 Sussex Dr., chatting with passerby all along the way.
Michael was 13 when his grandfather died of cancer in 1972. Most of his memories of him are of fishing together and traipsing around the woods of the prime minister’s summer cottage near Ottawa. Pearson’s bow ties rarely made appearances there, but Michael recalled him always wearing one for formal occasions.
“The bow tie was ubiquitous with him,” he said. It’s a fashion choice he believes his grandfather picked up while living in the U.K. and studying at the University of Oxford.
“He was an anglophile,” Michael explained.
Wherever the Value Village bow tie and letter end up, he said he’d love to hear the end of the story.
Store manager Jacqui Ferguson hopes the recipient, Cathie Butterfield, or her family will hear of the discovery and reach out. As of Wednesday afternoon, Ferguson said they haven’t received any tips.
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