An old sports trophy presented to the Port Alberni Athletic Association in 1912 that was lost for over 100 years recently found its way to a collectables shop in Keremeos before finally being repatriated to the Vancouver Island city earlier this year.
Port Alberni city officials were notified of the trophy’s existence around Valentine’s Day this year. According to Bluenose Precious Metals owner Kosta Bakalos of Penticton, two ladies brought the trophy to him after attempting to contact authorities in Port Alberni.
“They had emailed someone in Port Alberni asking if there was any interest in the trophy,” Bakalos said, “they hadn’t heard back from them, so they offered it to me.” Bakalos said he was told the piece had been purchased at a Keremeos second hand store.
In fact, the trophy had been brought to Bakalos by a Similkameen valley woman who found it for sale at $125 at the Curiosity Shop, a Keremeos antique and collectable store on Seventh Avenue.
“It was an unusual piece,” recalls store owner Kelly Bickner, who remembered purchasing the trophy at Value Village in Penticton. The cup’s unusual engraving and date- 1912- caught Bickner’s attention, who paid $60 for it.
Neither members of the Alberni Athletic Association, or staff and politicians at city hall were aware of the existence of the cup.
“We all thought it was important so we gave the go-ahead to try and get it,” said Alberni Athletic Association President Larry Spencer, who had been on holidays when the original email had been sent.
According to the Alberni Valley News, Spencer contacted an intermediary for the seller and told him the association was willing to pay the $850 price tag and bring the trophy back to Port Alberni.
“Then they upped the price by $500,” he said. An anonymous donor helped the society buy the trophy.
Aside from the engraving on the cup, there didn’t seem to by anyone alive today in Port Alberni who knew anything more about the cup’s existence, or provenance.
Some detective work by Alberni Valley News editor Wawmeesh G. Hamilton shed some light on the origins of the mysterious trophy.
Hamilton came across a news story from the archives of the British Times Colonist dated Aug. 23, 1913, which described the trophy and what it was for.
Titled “Field Meet in Port Alberni” the story previewed a field sports event being held in Port Alberni on Labour Day weekend.
According to the article, the annual event was hosted by the Port Alberni Athletic Club. The meet featured competition between athletes from Vancouver and Victoria.
The Victoria contingent was being led by champion sprinter Hal Beasley who was running for the James Bay Athletic Club. An Olympian, Beasley competed in 100-metre, 200m and 400m races in the 1912 Olympic Games.
The athletes were vying for some coveted trophies— including the challenge trophy offered by the Alberni Land Commission.
The cup is a replica of the one given by the King of England to the Royal Yacht Club. The trophy was presented to the athlete who scored the largest number of points at the Port Alberni meet.
Athletic Association member Bill Andrews drove to Penticton earlier this year to repatriate the piece of history. The cup remains tucked away, but future plans call for it to be enshrined at the athletic hall in Port Alberni.