John Bowker

Rugby treasure found in old frame in Langford

Businessman looks to gift 114-year-old picture to Rugby Canada

When John Bowker opened up an antique picture frame purchased for his children at a garage sale, he was surprised at what he found.

Upon further inspection, he discovered an aging photo, hidden in the frame – instead of being featured in it. It’s a sepia-toned still of the Vancouver Rugby Football Club team from the 1901-1902 season.

“When you pull it apart there is a backing and it was behind the main picture,” he said.

The photo features 22 men, most in uniform, next to a large trophy. At the bottom of the matte reads a line “Champions of British Columbia.”

“This is something I think Rugby Canada should have, because it’s a piece of their legacy,” said Bowker, owner of Universal Supplements in Langford. “But I don’t want to give it to them like that, I want to somehow get it framed and give it to them.”

He hopes the national program will acknowledge its heritage and put it up in their Langford headquarters, or perhaps recognize a name or individual from the picture.

“I know Rugby Canada is a big part of the community and the community likes that … I could hang it up in (here), but it’s not going to do it justice.”

The Canadian men’s national team takes on Brazil at the Americas Rugby Championship at Westhills Stadium in Langford at 4 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 20). For more information or tickets, visit

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