‘He deserves it’: Organizers eye B.C. as permanent home for Terry Fox artifacts

'He deserves it': Organizers eye B.C. as permanent home for Terry Fox artifacts

It’s been 43 years since Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox launched his Marathon of Hope and now, organizers are searching for a permanent space to display the artifacts honouring him.

In April 1980, Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean before setting out on a cross-country journey to raise money for cancer research. But that September, the trek was cut short near Thunderbay, Ont., when cancer returned to his lungs.

Yet after all these years, his legacy lives on.

“A lot of us experienced Terry’s Marathon of Hope, but the next generation might not know that story unless we can share the artifacts and tell that story,” said Rob Reid, board member at the Terry Fox Centre.

“We think it’s such an important Canadian piece of fabric that we share Terry’s values and his story for generations to come.”

The centre wants thousands of artifacts currently stored away in Vancouver to be displayed permanently to allow spectators an up-close look at Fox’s life and belongings, including his van. 

“Letters, notes, pieces of art that people have sent Terry,” said Darren Wark, Fox’s cousin and a Terry Fox Run organizer.

“I was speaking with Terry’s nurse one day, who’s still alive, and she was telling me in the few weeks after Terry came back to Royal Columbian, there were bags — bags of letters.”

About five years ago, the artifacts were displayed at the Royal BC Museum, and Reid remembers that being a big success.

“We have had it travelling across Canada at various times. It was here in Victoria in 2017, people might remember that,” he said. “And we’d like to find a permanent home before 2030, which would be the 50th anniversary of Terry’s Marathon of Hope.”


Now, discussions are underway with British Columbia’s Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister Lana Popham to find a long-term home for the prized possessions, with talk of possibly somewhere in Victoria’s Inner Harbour or downtown Vancouver.

“I hope it’s here. I want it to be here. When I say here, I mean B.C.,” exclaimed Wark.

“There are a couple of key locations in Victoria, but does it make the most sense? Well, this is Mile Zero, so it makes sense from that aspect, but Vancouver’s a much bigger city and it’s home for Terry. It may not be Port Coquitlam, but it has to be a spot where people are.”

In a statement to CHEK News, Popham says her ministry has met with the centre’s members and is working to support them in finding a permanent space to celebrate Fox’s legacy.

“Terry Fox is a national hero — and is especially important to British Columbians. His story continues to inspire Canadians and people from around the world,” said Popham.

The Terry Fox Foundation launched in 1988 and since then, it’s raised more than $850 million — but according to Wark, none of those funds go toward the artifacts.

“Our issue is that when we raise money in Terry’s name, it’s all for cancer research and not for the artifacts,” he said.

“The next steps will be meetings, looking at locations and looking at a budget plan and a feasibility study on how, depending on which location gets picked, what’s realistic and who we can get support from,” added Reid.

So, the pair and their colleagues are taking inspiration from a quote on Fox’s statue at Mile Zero — “Dreams are made possible if you try” — and hope that with some hard work, a permanent display becomes a reality.

“Let’s get it out there, let’s get it out of storage. It’s gotta be out there for people to understand the story,” said Wark.

“Canadians deserve it, Terry deserves it. It’s the right thing to do.”

On Tuesday, Minister Popham sent CHEK News this statement about a permanent space for Terry Fox artifacts.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!