BY LORETTA HOUBEN
Once upon a time there was a little house in Collingwood. The city of South Vancouver grew and changed all around, while two World Wars and a major Depression took place. A BC Electric Rail tramline came and went on the left of the property, with the Park Avenue station just steps away.
In 1986 a modern new SkyTrain shadowed the view where the tramline once ran. The one-lane road in front changed to many lanes as it was widened, and its name changed from Park Avenue to Boundary Road.
The little house began life with an owner from England. Maybe he built the house himself. The first mention of Park Avenue in the BC Directories happens in 1914, when Cresswell B. Rickard, builder, is shown living in the modest little home at 129 Park North.
In 1917 he’s listed as a carpenter at the Vancouver shipyards, but then his occupation is a cabinet maker at 2993 Kingsway in 1920, a year in which there were only four households listed between Kingsway and Vanness Avenue on Park Avenue North.
In the 1921 Canadian census, Cresswell Rickard appears at 129 Park North in South Vancouver, with his wife Louisa Jane and their three sons, Reginald, Sidney and Earnest.
In 1925 Rickard is still at 129 Park North but working at 2902 Granville as a cabinet maker. He appears consistently until 1929, when he’s a cabinet maker at 1427 West Broadway.
Then in 1930 his home address changes to 5691 Boundary Road. The next year the address for the little house is 5515 Boundary Road, the number it remains until it’s eventually torn down in the 2010s to make way for a complex which consists of three large condo towers.
I’ve always been curious about old houses. I took a few photos of 5515 Boundary in 2009, as the look of it fascinated me. I tracked down the name of the owner by digging online and checked out C. B. Rickard’s marriage certificate where I discovered he was married in 1911 in Vancouver.
He remained in his little home until 1973, when he died at age 98. His death certificate states that he lived in the municipality where he died for 67 years. So, although I can’t find a trace of Boundary Road before 1914, where Rickard first appears in the directories, he may have lived here since 1906.
In a few more months, the brand-new Annex for the Collingwood Neighbourhood House will open. It sits on the spot where the little house at 5515 Boundary Road once sat, where the Rickard family lived.
As our neighbourhood changes dramatically, it’s good to stop and remember the pioneers who forged the way before our modern world evolved, and imagine what life was like as they raised their families in the tiny little homes with the large gardens and fruit trees, as the BCER tram rattled past, and the brand-new automobiles chugged up the hill to Westminster Road (now Kingsway).
Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood and a regular contributor to the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.
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