Old photos from the Richmond Archives reveal a rather bizarre structure — a 30-foot high, 190-foot-long slide — near the corner of No. 3 Road and Westminster Highway, adjacent to Richmond Square Shopping Centre, now simply named Richmond Centre.
Archivist Bill Purver is always excited to share the story of the Skookum Slide with visitors since it was such a unique attraction.
“Anyone living in Richmond who was age six to 12, or so, back in the day, should remember the Skookum Slide. But it only lasted a few years,” said Purver.
The slide was built by the Skookum Slide Ltd. company and based on others in California; although Richmond’s three-storey structure featured a large, striped canopy roof to shelter children from the rain.
Despite a population of only about 55,000 people in 1969, Richmond was chosen as a location because of its proximity to Vancouver by car, according to Purver.
Parents would pay 25 cents for three rides or, if they had some shopping to do, $1 for 20 rides.
Kids would scurry up the slide and go down in a burlap sack. After they were done, they could go for ice cream at the Dairy Queen, as the slide was situated in the shop’s parking lot.
The Richmond Review newspaper compared the slide to one at the PNE, and Skookum’s president John Stokes noted: “They charged 25 cents (for the PNE slide), while we charge just a nickel.”
The slide was short lived, however, as the company only leased the land. Eventually, in 1973, Richmond Square had begun eyeing expansion and forced the slide company to pack up and leave the township.
Old photos of the slide reveal a different Richmond; that of urban sprawl with few multi-storey buildings and street trees in the town’s centre.
Visit the Richmond Archives Blog to see original copies of the Skookum Slide proposal to city council and other photos and documents.