REGINALD JOSEPH BICKFORD
October 11, 1916 – June 27, 2015
REGINALD JOSEPH BICKFORD October 11, 1916 – June 27, 2015
Died peacefully at home surrounded by his immediate family, at the end of a long and colourful life. Born and raised in Swansea, Wales, his architectural apprenticeship was interrupted when WW2 took him to Sri Lanka for three years in the Royal Air Force, supervising the construction of heavy bomber airfields. He returned to Britain at the end of the war and, after completing his training, he worked for the Ministry of Works in Bedford. With a thirst for new horizons he immigrated to Eire where he spent seven years as Architect at Guinness’s St. James Gate Brewery. He was hired to design and oversee an extensive building program, which among other projects included the design of a theatre and a housing estate for brewery workers in Dublin’s Tenure district.
The wanderlust kicked in again. After applying to the governments of several Commonwealth countries, he accepted a job with Canada’s Department of Citizenship and Immigration. He brought his young family, wife Betty (nee Newman) and daughters, Janet Dorothy and Diana, to Ottawa. He soon transferred to Public Works. But his love of the sea drew him. After summer holidays in the Maritimes he was moved to apply for a transfer to the position of District Architect for B.C. and the Yukon based in Vancouver. In 1956 the family settled in West Vancouver. This job led him to explore the province and territory extensively and experience their hunting and fishing potential.
During his time with Public Works Canada, Reginald became a member of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia in December 1965. He served on the Examining Board and was active as a member of council between 1970 and 1972 ably filling the position of Honorary Treasurer. During 1970 Reginald was producer of the AIBC’s 50th anniversary film entitled “Architecture – New Directions” in conjunction with Simon Fraser University personnel. He was involved in a lot of committee work for the AIBC Reginald was made a fellow of the AIBC, and after his retirement he was asked in September 1974 to act as Executive Director of the AIBC. This he did for 5 years. He also sat on the board of the GVRD in the 1970’s. He sat on the White Rock Design Panel during the time he lived In Ocean Park. In later years, living in Metchosin, he served on the Planning Committees for both Metchosin and Langford.
Reginald was always a builder of things. During his life, he built seven boats from an Irish currach to a small sail boat, a catamaran, culminating in a 28-foot trimaran. In Dublin, he built a house and two family house trailers one of which housed the family on their adventurous road trip from Ottawa to Vancouver. During his time in West Vancouver, he built a cabin on the shore of Green Lake, near 70 Mile House BC. This was a family project that evolved over several summers. As soon as he moved into a home he set about renovating it to his liking. A few years after his retirement he began building a pioneering solar heated house in Ocean Park, BC. The house was constructed from wood cut and milled from the property on which it was built. You’d think he was set for life, now, but a family wedding in Victoria sent him exploring Vancouver Island as a place to live. He and Betty eventually found their dream home in Metchosin, with a view across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains. Over the 35 years they lived there he transformed it into a rambling “plantation” with accommodation for visiting extended family and a suite for Diana, her husband Grant and children, Emerald and Trevor. It was a great blow to him when in 2011 he lost his beloved wife, Betty, after 70 years of marriage and partnership.
He leaves, daughters, Janet, Dorothy and Diana (who lovingly undertook and supervised his care in his last years), grandchildren, Jane, David, Gwendolyn, Emerald and Trevor, great grandchildren, Steven, Anna, Alexis and Alicia, who at 18 months old enchanted him with a visit from Ottawa in his last weeks of life. In lieu of flowers, we would welcome donations to the Victoria Hospice Society.
The date for the memorial service is to be announced.
REGINALD JOSEPH BICKFORD
August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015
Horst & Sue Koschmider
August 2, 2015
We are thinking of you all today, on the occasion of Reg's memorial, and we wish we could be there with you.
Reg has been a very important person to us.
Initially, Reg and Betty were like my Canadian parents after my arrival in Vancouver. Reg mentored me and was one of my citizenship sponsors in 1975. He was kind and soft-spoken, always ready to lend a hand or give advice when needed.
Reg and Betty provided a warm welcome as my family grew to include Sue and then our children. Our family has many happy memories of dinners, trips, and work projects, including the beautiful, innovative solar house Reg built on the property in Whiterock.
During our last visit in Metchosin in 2014 I had the pleasure of reviewing, with Reg, his work documents from his time at Guinness in Dublin. These documents showcased his accomplishments creating commercial and residential buildings for the company. Amongst them were also several letters of commendation which I enjoyed reading to Reg, and which I believe he enjoyed hearing once more.
Sue and I will miss Reg very much.
Bill & Elspeth Kirk
July 29, 2015
We just heard of Reg's passing and want to add our sincere condolences to the family for losing a dear father and grandfather. He was a wonderful character!
Judith Hunt Retired Architect.AIBC
July 16, 2015
When I joined Public Works Canada one of my first tasks was to collect signatures on a 'happy retirement' card for Reg Bickford. His colleagues loved and respected him so very much, reminisced at length about how great a man he was, and all were sorry to see him leave.
Later he ran the AIBC, unassisted except for Sheila Roche, as a very tight ship.
I am so glad to know he enjoyed such a long and full retirement.
Reg Bickford made a huge contribution to the profession of architecture in Canada.
My deepest sympathy to his family.
July 16, 2015
Thanks for doing that research Chris. It was so nice to see Reginald and his work, remembered all these years later. He really was a remarkable man with a remarkable story. I too loved hearing stories about the war and the way he and Betty managed through it all. Reg was a smart, accomplished and humble man who cared deeply for his family. I am so pleased that my family and I were able to get to know him (and Betty). The fact that he was able to spend all his last days surrounded by his family in the home he loved, is a real testament to the love and respect they all shared. Reg and his family have done a truly amazing job through it all, right up until he was able to slip away to rejoin his Betty once again. Well done all. We will miss you Grandpa.
July 16, 2015
MEMORIAL FOR REGINALD BICKFORD
A memorial for Reginald Bickford will be held at 2:00 PM August 2nd at the old St. Mary the Virgin Church, 4394 Metchosin Road just before the junction with Happy Valley Road.
Metchosin is one of the Western suburbs of Victoria British Columbia. Just go to Google Maps.
July 15, 2015
I greatly enjoyed listening to and learning from Reginald. He lived in tumultuous times and just listening to him was an education. His stories of WWII in Europe and in Sri Lanka were amazing and his post war work after immigrating to Canada was equally impressive. Conversations we had concerning his work at Guinness following the great war lead me to some internet research that showed he is still remembered and credited for his work on their website here: http://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/docs/Terenure-Housing.pdf . Researcher Linda Hickey also gives him credit for his work on the "Guinness Houses" at http://iloveterenure.ie/tli-wpcontent/uploads/Terenure_Newsletter_Winter_2014.pdf?160f8d
It was interesting to get on Zillow and see how nicely these houses have been kept up and how well loved they are still by past and current residents.
His collection of photographs of the post gold rush Yukon and the many great buildings he designed for Canada are fantastic and I am proud to have been able to hear the stories first hand. His was a life well lived and I will miss hearing about it from him.
July 11, 2015
July 11, 2015
Reg and his beautiful redheaded bride, Betty, were married in Swansea on February 22, 1941. The night before the wedding Swansea suffered one of the most severe bombing raids of the war. The train station was destroyed, forcing out of town guests to walk miles. Traffic was completely disrupted in many parts of the city.
Reg and his best man set out for the church on foot. En route they encountered a huge pile of rubble blocking a street. They climbed over it and made it to the church on time. They later discovered that they had climbed over an unexploded bomb.
The hall for the reception was destroyed along with the wedding presents on display there. The caterers were unable to function. Betty's mother, who had made the wedding cake herself with hoarded stores of rationed sugar, flour and dried fruits, had kept it at home, planning to make an entrance with it. At the hastily improvised wedding breakfast held in the home of the bride's parents, Maud and Ivor Newman, at least they had cake.
July 7, 2015