Barbers of The Stag ‘like therapists’

Lost photographs could shine a light on unrecorded Maple Ridge history

Arthur Wells shines Bob Kilsby’s shoes while a customer looks on

Arthur Wells shines Bob Kilsby’s shoes while a customer looks on

The Stag Barbershop has occupied a unique space in the municipality for the past 58 years. Under the watchful eye of moose and deer heads that lined the walls, friends could discuss everything from morality to politics, home life to sports, religion to gossip.

The barbers, who acted as companions and counsellors, were just as unique as the shop.

Al Clark, the original owner, worked at a logging camp in Harrison during his youth. One evening, he looked around the bunkhouse and saw a lack of grey hair; men didn’t grow old in this profession because it was so dangerous.

Al explained: “You didn’t walk around the camp, you ran.”

He began to think that perhaps a change in profession was due. When a fellow logger asked if there was anyone who could cut hair, Al thought, “Sure, I can do that.”

Al’s friendly and easygoing demeanour were perfect for his new profession; he called everyone ‘son’ no matter the age of the patron, and was known to leave the shop now and again to enjoy a coffee with clients.

“I never didn’t want to go to work,” Al recalled. “Every day was different.”

Even after he retired, Al continued to be a fixture at the Stag, covering people’s holiday shifts for the next 10 years before truly retiring to Ladysmith.

Born and raised in Hammond, Bob Kilsby worked alongside Al for 35 years. An accomplished boxer in his teenage years, Bob continued to be involved in sports throughout his life, playing baseball, hunting, fishing and participating in the local bowling scene.

Bob ‘the Barber’ Kilsby came through with flying colors in the Maple Ridge Classic 10-pin league Friday night,” declared a March 1964 Gazette article. “He rolled a 595 triple for the top individual performance of the week.”

Reading through entries on the “We Call it Haney” Facebook page, it becomes clear that Bob was well known and loved in Maple Ridge.

Derrien Kilsby, Bob’s daughter-in-law, remembered how Bob “had a way of making everyone he spoke to feel important, and doubly so if you were sitting in his barber chair. He would remember your name, where you worked, your family, and every other detail you shared with him.”

His daughter Patricia added that Bob and the other barbers “were like therapists – they were told things by their customers, and understood about secrecy and didn’t betray it.”

One of the shop’s most intriguing characters was Arthur Wells. Arthur joined the team in 1963 and worked as the shoe-shiner for the next 28 years. However, most people remember him for his skill with a camera rather than a cleaning cloth. A fixture at almost any event around town, Arthur visually recorded the people and places that made Maple Ridge special.

No one knows what happened to these photographs, but one can imagine that they would shine a bright light into the attic of unrecorded Maple Ridge history. If you know what happened to Arthur’s photographs, please contact Val Patenaude at the Maple Ridge Museum at 604-463-5311.

Sandra Borger is a researcher with the Maple Ridge Museum.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge artist Zoran Malinovski has a new online exhibition called What’s Happening. (Angie Malinovski/Special to The News)
Exhibition by Maple Ridge artist brings environment back to the forefront

Zoran Malinovski’s online exhibition called What’s Happening

Maureen Blamey is a seniors outreach social worker with the geriatrics team. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
New geriatrics team to help seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The Seniors Service Team was formed to improve the quality of life for pre-frail and frail, medically complex seniors

Baillie House long-term care is located at Ridge Meadows Hospital. (Google Maps)
Five people test positive for COVID-19 at Maple Ridge’s Baillie House

Long-term care facility is one month removed from its last outbreak

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows MLA Beare performs one of first official acts in new office

Order permitting use of additional communication tools in public sector during pandemic extended

Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)
Pitt Meadows city hall and residents oppose new CP Rail operation

Company announces plans for CP Logistics Park: Vancouver

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

Most Read