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Edition #629  Friday, April 21, 2017

Terry Fox

Terrance Stanley "Terry" Fox was born July 28th, 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He and his family moved to Surrey BC in 1966 and then Port Coquitlam BC in 1968.

An enthusiastic but not naturally gifted athlete, his grit and determination to be the best is what garnered him early recognition for his athletic achievements. Able-bodied, he earned a spot on the Simon Fraser junior varsity basketball team. After the amputation of his leg and with the encouragement of Rick Hansen, he became a member of a national championship winning wheelchair basketball team. In 1980 he was named an all-star by the North American Wheelchair Basketball Association.

This past April 12th was the 37th anniversary of the start of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. It also marked the opening of a special Terry Fox travelling exhibit presently at the Royal British Columbia Museum, running here in Victoria until October 1st. Here's a link

The now iconic Marathon of Hope van is the first thing visitors to the exhibit will see upon entering the museum lobby.

This Ford E250 Econoline van was originally loaned to the Marathon of Hope by Ford Canada and customized by the Funcraft company. After Terry Fox's run ended, the van was returned to Ford and passed through several different ownerships. In 2007 author and artist Douglas Coupland received a tip that the van was located in Vancouver. Now owned by the Fox Foundation it was restored to as close to 1980 condition as possible. The van's permanent home is now at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

While the van signage was bilingual, one of the early problems was neither Terry nor any of his close entourage spoke any French. As more and more people showed interest in the run, French language spokespeople made things easier. Now Terry Fox, the Foundation and the Marathon of Hope transcend all language barriers.

One of the people who participated in the original Marathon of Hope was amazed at the restoration of the van and at the same time was glad the odour of sweaty clothing had not been replicated for the sake of authenticity.

This is a map of Terry Fox's intended cross-country run. On April 12 1980, Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Spear, NL, to start his cross-country Marathon of Hope in aid of cancer research.

A bottle of the original Atlantic ocean water was brought with them during the run and is part of the Terry Fox exhibit. Their intention was to pour this bottle out when they arrived on the Pacific coast.

The exhibit is well laid out and is packed with artifacts related to Terry, the Marathon and his legacy. This evocative and inspiring collection is sure to be a prime destination for school children of all ages during its cross country travels.

The t-shirts Terry wore during his run became well-known imagery, changing as he crossed the country.

While many people recognize the fronts of the t-shirts he wore, here's a look at the backs of these same shirts.

This is Terry's favourite running leg.

The wear and tear as well as provisional repairs made to Terry's runners is well evidenced in this image.

While Terry's run began with limited coverage and poor financial returns, the story of his run began to get traction in the press. With corporate and government recognition and support, the Marathon of Hope gathered steam and Terry became a living, breathing Canadian folk hero. Astute philatelists will note the photograph in the upper right corner of this display was the basis for the 1982 Canadian stamp commemorating his run.

Terry began to pick up recognition as his trip westward continued. Here are some of the souvenirs and gifts he was given as the nation cheered him on.

Video testimonials by Canadians from all walks of life, famous and unknown, are part of the exhibit. Here's Wayne Gretzky telling exhibit goers how Terry Fox inspired him.

Inspirational quotes by and about Terry line the walls of the exhibit, proving over and over what a remarkable individual Terry Fox was.

Dozens of articles from well wishers are on display.

This cross stitch piece even got his hair right.

The Lou Marsh memorial trophy (as Canada's outstanding athlete of the year) and the Order of Canada (the youngest recipient to receive the award) were two of the more official symbols of recognition for his achievements.

Terry ran an average of close to 42 kilometres (26 miles) a day through Canada's Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario. However, due to the spread of cancer to his lungs, Labour Day 1980 was when he ran his last mile. He had completed 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles) in 143 days. Even though the pain and weakness proved to be too great he was still able to run nineteen miles on this last day. The exhibition includes the original marker that became a national shrine to his efforts. Today there's a new marker, and a ten-foot tall bronze statue stands a bit further down the road, just outside Thunder Bay ON.

A contemporary speech given by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is one of the final voices from the exhibit.

Here's the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope stamp issued as part of the Millennium collection of 1999.

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Here's the answer - Canada #887, the 17c Ŕ la Baie Saint-Paul / At Baie Saint Paul by Marc-Aurčle Fortin. The stamp was issued in 1981.

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