When Calgary native Bradley Evasiuk was out hiking in beautiful Banff National Park the last thing he expected to discover was a piece of Toronto Maple Leafs history. But there it was... an ornate Birks watch just lying there on the middle of the trail. Evasiuk bent down, picked it up and discovered an inscription on the back that from the mayor of Toronto congratulating Leafs head doctor Tait McPhedran on his team's 1967 Stanley Cup victory.
"My jaw hit the floor almost. There was a piece of history, practically," Evasiuk said.
That doctor, Tait McPhedran, passed away in 2012 but was indeed the owner of the watch. His son Norm McPhedran believes that his father lost the watch during a treacherous overnight stay in Banff National Park back in 1991.
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Around 1991, Norm said his dad and a friend had planned a hike at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park in the winter.
At one point, they arrived at a dam that was wired shut, blocking their way.
Norm said their light ran out, and they ended up having to spend the night in the mountains.
They both managed to make it back by the morning, Norm said, just as he and his brother Bruce were on their way to go look for their dad.
"That's where we think it happened," Norm said.
He guesses the watch must have been there for about 30 years.
Finding the watch is huge, Norm says, especially since their mom just passed away this year, so they couldn't ask her about the watch or where it was.
According to Norm, his father was a lot more than just the Leafs' team doctor though. During the 1967 Stanley Cup, the last year the Leafs hoisted the Cup, Dr. McPhedran was right there on the team's bench. "He opened and closed the gate for them," Norm said.
An incredible story and an incredible bit of history. Evasiuk has of course done the right thing by returning the watch to the McPhedran family, its rightful owners. Norm is certain that his father would appreciate the gesture.
"Dad was pretty understated with this stuff, but you know, as any Leafs or Flames fan would say, 'God, this is a real relic'," Norm said.
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