A nostalgic, if not historic sign, has gone missing from downtown Invermere just as it was about to be given as a gift, and the owners are seeking to have it returned.

The old Valley Echo building was built decades ago and, for about the past 20 years or so, has cut a distinctive profile on 13th Street with its classic Western-style storefront name sign. The Valley Echo newspaper moved from the building to its current location in early 2013; the building was then purchased by the local branch of Manulife Financial.

This past weekend, work was being done on the building and the old sign was carefully taken down, with the plan to give it as a gift to the Ede family, who have been involved with the newspaper for decades. To the shock of Manulife staff, the sign has disappeared, likely sometime during Saturday.

“It seems it just walked away,” said Manulife assistant Holly Jones. “We’re tremendously disappointed we didn’t get to give it to the Ede family, because it would’ve been quite meaningful to them.”

Manulife will wait to report the sign as stolen property, in order to give a week’s grace period for the sign to be returned.

“Hopefully that will encourage somebody to return it,” said Jones. “They could put it by the old Echo building or leave it by the new Echo location, no questions asked.”

The classic Western-style sign was initially put up to replace an older sign. By The Valley  Echo’s Monday press deadline, the sign was still missing.