When Reginald Angus Argue was three years old, he won a hockey stick signed by the players on the inaugural Vancouver Canucks 1970-71 hockey team. Earlier this year, at age 43, Argue donated the historic stick to the Forever Canucks interactive exhibit in Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
In between, however, the wooden replica stick spent much of its life in Port Hardy, where Argue grew up before graduating from Port Hardy Secondary School in 1986 and joining the Canadian Armed Forces.
“My dad took me to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory when it opened in Burnaby,” said Argue, who spent nine years in the military and who works as an advocate for veterans’ causes. “When we were leaving, they had a draw there for free tickets to a Canucks game and my dad entered me into the draw.
“I didn’t win the tickets, but I won the stick.”
The family moved to Port Hardy from the Mainland a short time later, and Argue’s mother put the stick into storage. There it stayed, virtually forgotten, until a team of Canucks alumni from the late 1980s came to the North Island to play an exhibition game and do a little charter fishing in their free time.
That fishing charter happened to be run by Argue’s father, who remembered the 1971 stick and who dug it out of storage to get this latter-day group of Canucks to sign the back of it. And back into storage it went.
By this time, Reginald had been in the military for years, including a deployment to Iran with a UN delegation in 1988. The stick, now bearing the signatures of two teams of Canucks players, was all but forgotten when his father passed away in 2008 and the stick came into Reginald’s possession.
That’s when he was reminded that it bore the signatures of all 25 original Canucks, and also remembered his father’s wish to someday attend one last Canucks game and donate the stick back to the franchise.
So, on April 2 this year, Argue and his wife Lisa made the trip to Rogers Arena and did just that.
On hand for the stick presentation was Orland Kurtenbach, captain of that 1970-71 Canuck squad, who marveled as he found his 40-year-old signature and reviewed the other names on the stick.
“I’ve had so many people say, ‘Aren’t you kicking yourself for giving it away?'” Argue said. “But the signatures on that stick belong to all the fans. I want parents to be able to show it to their kids.
“It’s time for it to go home.”
The route “home” from Port Hardy retraced its original journey precisely.
Before delivering the stick to the Canucks organization, Argue made one last stop in Burnaby at Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, where original owner Charlie Sigvardsen still answers the phone at the family business.
Argue and Sigvardsen posed together with the stick for a photo, and Sigvardsen marveled at the memento’s round-trip journey.
Meanwhile, “Chocolate Charlie” has already begun what he hopes will be his next contribution to Canucks lore. He has constructed a two-foot-tall, 50-pound chocolate replica of the Stanley Cup.
“If the Canucks win the cup, I’ll probably donate it to them,” he said.