In Passing: Reginald Joseph Bickford

Reginald Joseph Bickford, born October 11, 1916, died peacefully at home on June 27, 2015 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 and the members of the AIBC voted to confer the status of Honorary Member of the AIBC to Reginald. 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.

The above information is sourced from Reginald Joseph Bickford’s online obituary.

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