Marian Albert and Dale Alexander visit the former site of Dave's World on Lougheed Highway at 269th Street in Whonnock.

Marian Albert and Dale Alexander visit the former site of Dave's World on Lougheed Highway at 269th Street in Whonnock.

Dave’s World comes to an end

Marian Albert and Dale Alexander remember the day they took their brother Dave down and the destroyed Dave’s World.

Marian Albert and Dale Alexander remember the day they took their brother Dave down and the destroyed Dave’s World. It was a January 1998, about 2 a.m., and it seemed like a foreign army had invaded.

“You couldn’t have dreamed it up from a movie, it was so bizarre,” recalls Marian.

“It was like there was an invasion of another country going on.

“It was the worst nightmare I’d ever seen.”

How could this happen in Canada, she asked herself.

Searchlights seared the night along the sealed off Lougheed Highway in Whonnock.  A bus load of police rolled up and descended from River Road above, on to the old gas station site at 269th Street that had become a sprawling outdoor museum, or junk collection – depending on your point of view.

Police secured the scene, enforced a court order, then brought in the excavators, clearing the site within hours.

The night raid culminated a growing antagonism between the District of Maple Ridge, which wanted the roadside attraction (or distraction) cleaned up and Dave Alexander – whose interests ranged from poetry to butterflies, old tools and old toys, and history – moved out.

Dave’s World had become a place for tourists, for kids to drop by and see how previous generations played, and for truckers to honk at as they drove by what became a milestone signifying the entry to Maple Ridge.

The place was so popular your arm would get tired waving at all the honking motorists, recalled Dave’s brother, Dale, during a visit Friday to the overgrown site.

His roadside emporium has had become an embarrassment for Maple Ridge, which was growing up and trying to take its place in Metro Vancouver’s world.

After 14 years, hardly any trace of it remains. Trees have overtaken was a parking lot, and tall grass and shrubs cover the rest.

Dale can barely place where everything used to be.

But it still remains empty, not used by anyone, points out Marian, as she sat on a concrete barricade where Dave used to display his old Tonka toy trucks.

Dave Alexander, who was living in a mobile home in Silverdale, just past the Mission-Maple Ridge border, died last Tuesday at age 65.

Alexander,  a tall, large man with long hair and long white beard, had heart surgery a year ago, although the cause of his death is not yet known, according to family. He’s survived by his daughter Karma, and brothers and sisters Patty, Gloria, Marian, Roy and Dale.

“He wasn’t in good health,” said his niece, Sheri Albert.

While outsiders could have seen him as an eccentric hoarder, his brother and sister knew the real Dave:

Dave, the non-conformist, who didn’t back down;

Dave, who twice ran for mayor of Maple Ridge;

Dave, the gregarious big guy who loved people and artifacts and education and books and, above all, history.

“He was a showboat,” said Dale.

“Very much a people person.

“He wasn’t shy.”

According to Marian, Dave amassed a collection of keepsakes because he couldn’t bear to see them buried in a dump. Among his favourites was collecting old tools, butterflies, antique dolls, red “Flyer” wagons, and cowboy stories.

At one point, he taught poetry in a night school class in Coquitlam. “He loved education. He loved books,” she added.

Sometimes, he made the old curios himself, such as the furry ‘Muffalope,’ which stood outside on the highway.

“When he found something old, it was a treasure from the past. He read constantly, and it was always history.”

One of his rituals was his morning breakfast at Bruce’s Country Market, where he breezed through crossword puzzles. Then it would be off to the Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot to look for more treasures.

Kim Day, executive-director with the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, remembered his visits.

“He was one of our regulars – a regular shopper.”

Alexander would pick over the bits and pieces that are for sale in the Re-used Store at the depot, “looking for treasures,” she added.

Then he’d put them on display at Dave’s World for everyone to appreciate.

He was also an easy hit for the big city TV stations. He once told human interest TV reporter Mike McCardell that a contraption for winding up barbed wire was for combing Alexander’s long white beard, a tale that McCardell bought for a while.

“That’s what he loved to do. He just loved to make people laugh.

“He loved people and if anybody needed help, he’d give you the shirt of his back,” adds Marian.

The 1998 raid had Dave and Dale facing charges of resisting arrest. Dave also faced an assault charge. The judge didn’t buy it, however, after seeing the police’s own video of the demolition, and there were no convictions.

“There shouldn’t be any police involved here. This is really getting to be a fascist town,” he told The News then.

It was only after the District of Maple Ridge bought the property a year later that Dave had his final notice and had to leave the property.

The eventual closure and the dispersal of his treasures and livelihood took its toll.

“It was his life,” said Dale.

Without the store, Dave was out of the limelight and missed the usual chatting with people.

Sue Schulze, at the Whonnock post office, just above where Dave’s World was located, knew him for 25 years and used to see him every couple weeks, such as last week, when he picked up his mail.

She remembers the night police came. She hasn’t noticed any difference in the area from when the collection was there and the following years when the lot stood empty.

“Dave was Dave.”

 

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

Just Posted

Born and raised in Maple Ridge, Ernie Daykin is still astonished at this community’s beauty. He recently captured this image of the snow covered peaks of the Golden Ears in the background, and cherry blossoms in the foreground. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View of Golden Ears from many different perspectives

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Spray paint was discovered at Hot Rocks. (Special to The News)
Popular Maple Ridge summer destination vandalized

Rocks discovered with spray paint along South Alouette

Police shut down 240 Street after a single vehicle accident. (The News files)
Maple Ridge man dies following crash

Police believe he went into medical distress before accident

An early morning fire forced the evacuation of a Maple Ridge apartment building on Saturday, April 3 (Deborah Hampton/Special to The News)
City of Maple Ridge thanks volunteers for response to Easter weekend blaze

Emergency Support Services volunteers stepped up to help displaced residents

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Cemetery staff installed the wrong headstone on the grave of Jima Kiir, even though the headstone’s photo did not match with the photo placed on the grave. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mother upset city placed wrong headstone on son’s grave

Cemetery staff mix up graves of 2 recently deceased men from South Sudanese community

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

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

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Most Read