The dark salmon-pink cottage wasn’t designated a heritage home, but it held a lot of history in its walls.
It was an occasion for chai tea, cookies – and a lot of memories – when a small group of neighbours gathered to mark the end of an era Wednesday as they watched the demolition of the cottage, one of the last original buildings of the historic border community of Douglas.
About 10 people – ranging from children to seniors – were present to keep alive the spirit of the community as a bulldozer tore into the wooden house, formerly the Peace Arch Coffee Shop and bakery, at 16881 Peace Park Dr.
Much of the settlement of Douglas vanished in the early ’30s, bulldozed to create Peace Arch Park to complement the border landmark. But the cottage – across the street – was one of the last original survivals of the earlier community.
Although accounts preserved by White Rock Museum and Archives say it was built in 1940 by Esther ‘Ma’ Crosfield, original proprietor of the coffee shop, it’s believed the building was converted from a cottage built decades before, when record keeping was much sketchier.
In 1952, it was sold to Louis Hayd – famous as Barkerville’s baker during the Depression years – who enlarged the coffee shop to add a bakery. It became a house again in the early ’60s after Hayd closed shop.
The current owner plans to rebuild on the quarter-acre lot, according to Michael Bugera, the most recent rental tenant, who had lived there for the past eight years.
An earlier Peace Arch News article about the impending demolition of the cottage sparked memories among readers, including Norma Langton, who grew up in the Douglas community in the years 1954-65 as the daughter of a customs officer.
“I remember sitting at the counter in the old shop,” she wrote, “my best friends on either side of me, slurping an Orange Crush float, heaven in the fifties.”