History

Who would have ever thought that a small town like Port Alberni could hold such a large event as the Toy Run has become.

Many years have passed and we would like to thank past Toy Run members, all merchants who donated to the cause and most of all, to all the riders who came out rain or shine or snow to participate and made it the success it has become (for if not for them the Toy Run would not have come into existence in the valley).   

In the pages to follow, you can scroll back through time from the present to the very first Toy Run of Port Alberni.

It all began when a few people got together one day and decided that if other motorcyclists can make kids happy, why don't we do the same.  So, with the help of some of our local merchants and the support from the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) and the Salvation Army, it all came together to become the amazing annual event it is now.

39th Annual Port Alberni Toy Run  |  September 16, 2023

We had good weather, with 1,100 bikes and many vendors showing up to a very successful weekend. It is worth noting that the Port Alberni Toy Run is now the largest Toy Run event in British Columbia.

 

13th Annual Port Alberni Toy Run  |  September 20 & 21, 1997

They came in record numbers to Cathedral Grove for the 13th Annual Toy Run. Over 600 bikes showed up for this lucky numbered event. Even the weather was with us that day - the sun shone brightly overhead. We were directing one lane of traffic through the Grove. The run got underway by noon and we still had riders joining us. The ride was uneventful through town thanks to the volunteers of Ace Flagging. In the hall the kids entertainment got under way with “Kids World”. They had a fish pond, imagination table, magicians and volunteers walking the floor in costumes (which got really hot with the nice weather). There was popcorn and cotton candy that some of our future toy run members gave out for a donation. We also had the traditional chili and hot dogs plus a pot of beef barley soup on hand for the hungry riders and locals who attended. Larry Knutson, who had registration number 13 won a kids Harley Davidson jacket. In the raffle, third place (ceramic pig on a bike) went to June Blake of Port Alberni; second place (hand painting of a Harley by Sue Cocks) went to Mary Anne Fred of Port Alberni; first place (Harley Rocker made by ADSS Woodworking class) went to S. Jarvis also of Port Alberni. The mayor and Santa (A.K.A. Gerard Janssen) made opening speeches. On Sunday, the Shriners cooked breakfast for a record number. Meanwhile the Poker run got under way. Making their way though the five check stops - prizes were given out for high spade and low heart. Highest hand went to Lisa Stowell with four Kings for a grand prize of $410.

Contributions
  • AV. Wrestling Club $300
  • ADSS Dry Grad $500
  • Big Brothers & Big Sisters $400
  • Bike Rodeo $105.83
  • Bowl for Kids $100
  • Bread of Life $1000
  • Jessica States Memorial $256.50
  • Navy League of Canada $500
  • Royal Purple $1000
  • Society of Organized Services $50
  • Hilton Centre $1650 and $604.94
  • Outreach Therapy $1650
  • Family Health Center $400
  • Arrowsmith Boy Scouts $100
  • Beaver Creek Boy Scouts $100
12th Annual Port Alberni Toy Run  |  September 21 & 22, 1996

As we gathered for yet another year's run, we saw many familar faces - riders that have come year after year to enjoy the weekend events.

The weekend started with the traditional meeting in Cathedral Grove for the run through town.  The Black Powder Club was on hand with hot coffee and goodies for all the riders - and anyone who wished to stop and take in the amazing sight of all the bikes lining up in order for a smooth takeoff at the sound of the cannon.  We had showers this year but cleared up as the minutes ticked by.

The FBI (Fanny Bay Inn) had a breakfast in which the money went to the Toy Run.  Thank You Dave.

As all the riders rode throught town, there was many people lining the roads to take in the view of all the riders decked out in leather and carrying toys.

For the kids there was 'Brent and Woofie', and a few games for the kids to play.  Everyone couldn't believe their eyes when they saw Elvis play to the crowd. Actually that was Stuart, another of our entertainment for the day.

The evening was danced away with music from Mallooba Boogie and Howie & the Hot Rods.

Congradulations to Brian Lathom for winning the Harley Rocker.

Sunday started out with the Shriner's pancake and sausage breakfast followed by the Poker Run.

Contributions
  • Aberni Valley Wresting Club $300
  • Big Brothers & Big Sisters $250
  • Bread of Life $100
  • Crossfire Youth Ministry $500
  • Dry Grad $300
  • Family Health Center $100
  • Jessica States Memorial $130
  • K Mart Christmas gift Certificates $2000
  • Navey League of Canada $800
  • RS Foundation $20
  • Teen Choir $400
  • 1st. Beaver Creek Boy Scoots $100
  • Zellers Christmas gift Certificates $200
  • Parksville Toy Run $50
  • West Coast General Hospital $9,199.73 (held in Trust in GIC)
11th Annual Port Alberni Toy Run  |  September 23 & 24, 1995

September 18 to 24 was dedicated as Toy Run week in Port Alberni.  This was our second year.  The week started out with three days at the Alberni Mall.  We displayed bikes, trophies and toys that were donated in Memory of Al Williams and Mark Boxrud.  We also had the local hospital display their plans for the new hospital.  We had many of the locals visit our display.

The Toy Run committee would like to take this time to thank all those who donated to the Toy Run in memory of Al Williams, Mark Boxrud and John Clark.  They will be dearly missed.

This was the 11th annual Toy Run, the weekend was excellent with more than 350 bikes participating in the ride through town.

The Black Powder Club was at Cathedral Grove with hot coffee and snacks for the riders.  We had so many bikes at the Grove that traffic was down to one lane.

Many spectators lined the roadside - waving and cheering as the procession of bikes went by.  On arriving at the Athletic Hall, the riders were piped in by the Army Cadets.

Refreshments and food were served along with a number of booths with wares for sale.

Trophies were awarded to the following people:  Oldest Rider - Roy Richmond, Port Alberni; Farthest Rider - Colin Taylor, Australia; Oldest Bike - Denis Contreras, Port Alberni; Best American - Rob Boccalon; Best Japanese - Brian Walker; Best European - Bob Vanderweele, Lantzville; Best Trike - Don Johnson, Courtenay.

Ray Parker was on hand to entertain the kids with magic and balloons.  We had the "Imagination Market" who kept the kids busy with hat making.

The evening saw the "Berry Cup Blooze" play to a packed house.  The dance floor was never empty.  Refreshments flowed and everyone had a good time.

Sunday morning, the local Shriners made pancakes and sausages for breakfast before the poker run got underway.  This was the best turnouts for the Poker Run ever with 55 entries.  The winning hand was a three of a kind.

Contributions
  • Aberni Valley Baseball Association $100.00
  • Alberni Valley Wresting Club $100.00
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters $1,250.00
  • Bread of Life $1,000.00
  • Buzz the Fuzz $250.00
  • Canadian Scottish Regimen $250.00
  • Dry Grad $200.00
  • Family Health Center $880.00
  • Shriners $600.00
  • Navy League of Canada $650.00
  • Parksville Toy Run $200.00
  • Skate Board Action Committee $1,000.00
  • 1st. Beaver Creek Boy Scouts $262.50
  • Women's Resources Center $506.09
  • West Coast General Hospital New Kids Ward Trust Fund $9,000.00
10th Anniversary Port Alberni Toy Run  |  September 24 & 25, 1994

They started to gather at Cathedral Grove when they could still see their breath.  By the time the sun started to peak through the trees, it was time to start the journey over "The Hump" and around the Quay.

It was 1994 and the event was the 10th Anniversary of the Port Alberni Toy Run.

The riders came from far and wide, so far even Santa came to lead the pack.  (Our own MLA Gerard Janssen).

On their way down the road, the side lines are filled with spectators hoping to hear the thunder and see motorcycles of every make, size, color and shape.  Children and adults both opened mouthed and wide-eyed.

Thanks to the generosity of the business community, donations of toys and money made it possible for the need children of Port Alberni to have a Merry Christmas.

When they reached the Athletic Hall, the doors were opened and the people came on in.  There was free food and drink and lots of things to do and see.

For the kids, there was the "Mad Hatter" (Ray Parker), who put on a fabulous magic show.  There were crafts and games and no child went home empty handed.

For the Adults - test your skills on your motorcycle.  Games for single riders and for a little more fun a game for a duo to see who could bite the most wiener.

Later that night there was a dance.  "Berry Cup Blooze" was the band and their popularity kept the dance floor full all night.

Meanwhile, at Echo Village, the "Mad Hatter" adjusted his act to suit the tastes of the elderly at Fir Park Village.

And the fun didn't stop there.  Sunday, they started their day with a Shriners' breakfast and a Poker Run to Taylor Flats which ended at the Arlington Hotel.

Contributions
  • Toys and certificates $7105.89
  • Hilton Center $12,000.00
  • Navy League of Canada $800.00
  • Kinettes $1,000.00
  • G.A.M.P. $300.00
  • Parksville Toy Run $300.00
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters $250.00
  • 1st. Beaver Creek Boy Scouts $450.00
  • Alberni Athletic Association $600.00
9th Annual Port Alberni Toy Run  |  September 25 & 26, 1993

It was a bright day and unseasonably warm as about 300 bikes, their riders and passengers met on a Saturday late in September.  Many visitors having made the trek from points east , enjoying the added  bonus of the ride down Highway #4 from Parksville. The parking lot in MacMillan Bloedel's old growth forest preserve known as Cathedral Grove barely accommodated everyone.

The ride started out with the 12 mile trip over "The Hump", as locals refer to the mountain pass, and down into the valley. A K.V.O.S. -TV crew was part of the parade with their Kid Stuff van.

This was the Ninth Annual Toy Run and the non-riding residents of the community have really begun to show support and enthusiasm.  Nothing make a ride more meaningful to riders than the sight of parents and kids crowded along the route.  They came out to hear the combined thunder of Hondas, Harleys and scooters and to see the once-a-year sight of bikes as far as the eye can see.  Small children have learned that if you've been very good and you watch carefully at the beginning of the parade you can catch a glimpse of a special visitor from the far north.  It is none other than Motorcyclist MLA of the Alberni/Clayoquot riding, Gerard Janssen, dressed as Santa Claus.

The Harbour Quay with its circular drive lends itself well to the convoy of bikes as it snakes around the fountain and back up through the downtown area.
The Port Alberni business community responded overwhelmingly and at the end of the ride, the hall filled with toys. Donations of money flowed freely.  Various charities around the community benefited from the proceeds.
The Merry Andrew Marionettes provided part of the children's entertainment and the bike games drew a good response from the adults.  It takes a lot of skill to maneuver the bikes through the course while at the same times tossing rings, balls and darts.  Only the true riders score well and end the course with a healthy push of the barrel.

A great time was had by all at the dance that night.  The band, "Flashback" and liquid refreshments combined to make a safe and lively celebration. Meanwhile, the Merry Andrew Marionettes performed at Echo Village for the elderly of Port Alberni.

The traditional pancake breakfast by the Shriners and a poker run to Taylor Flats and back to the Arlington Hotel rounded off the festivities for 1993.

Contributions
  • 400 toys plus $3,144.76 certificates and toys.
  • $7,001.00 to the Hilton Center
  • $100.00 to Perinatal Seminar
  • $4,034.74 to the Bread of Life
  • $200.00 to the Boy Scouts to replace  stolen camping equipment
  • $250.00 to the Big Brothers & Sisters
  • $54.53 for helium balloons
  • $1,800.00 to the Merry Andrew Marionettes
  • $50.00 to the Parksville Toy Run
  • $100.00 for appreciation day for our meat draw participants.

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