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

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Continuing push to electrify rail service

Amid controversy about a new CP yard in Pitt Meadows, local reader suggests alternative system

Denise Castonguay with Rian, a five-year-old Newfoundland who has retired from breeding. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
Maple Ridge breeders “overwhelmed” as demand for dogs skyrocket

With an average two year wait for purebreds, prices inflated for mixed breeds and designer dogs

There is a COVID-19 outbreak at Maple Ridge Seniors Village. (Google)
COVID-19 outbreak at Maple Ridge long-term care home

Maple Ridge Seniors Village among 536 new cases

RCMP arrested Anthony Randy Kalt in December of 2020. (File photo)
Charges approved against Maple Ridge man after crime spree

Arrest warrant issued for second suspect from Surrey

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Most Read