WATCH: A forgotten soccer superstar whose talents crossed racial lines is getting overdue recognition in Nanaimo, more than a century after his death.
Harry Manson’s story is one that remarkably even his family didn’t know until a historian recently dug up an incredible archive of achievements by the young First Nations man.
For years, Gary Manson walked by a downtown Nanaimo field, not knowing it was where his grandfather pioneered the sport of soccer a century earlier with skills so admired they leapt racial barriers.
“No I didn’t know him,” said Gary. “My dad didn’t know him, so it was that lost history.”
Harry Manson’s story had been buried in the years following his death at age 30 in 1912. His achievements were not even shared among his own family.
“Harry Manson’s story is of incredible significance to this community,” said Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog. “And for years even within his own family it wasn’t known or forgotten.”
That was until history buff Robert Janning started digging into archives and found the phenomenal tale of the young First Nations man who was a local legend, welcomed onto a Caucasian team to win them the BC Championship. His greatness has since won him a place in four halls of fame.
“It was amazing,” said Gary.
“I think it was destiny for me to find this story,” said Robert Janning. “Harry was languishing in obscurity but I think after I finish with him he’ll never be forgotten again.”
On Monday, Harry’s descendants drummed as a new Point of Interest sign was unveiled at the Nanaimo park where the soccer player once played. It tells Harry’s story so that his name won’t be forgotten to time.
“Yes he would be proud,” said Acting Chief of Snuneymuxw First Nation Doug White Sr. “I’m sure Gary’s right that he is looking down and watching this day today. It’s really great for all the kids for the future so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Gary Manson’s grandson was among the kids who got to touch the very trophy Harry Manson won for his team back in 1907.