Skateboarding may not be the first activity that comes to mind when thinking about what to do in Qualicum Beach, but that could be about to change.
The owner of Canada’s oldest skate store recently set up a new location in Canada’s oldest town (demographically speaking).
“I think our preconceived notion was that it was only retired people and we found that there are a lot of people, well retired people have kids and grandchildren, but also a lot of these people are very interesting,” said Peter Ducommun, also known as PD, who opened the original PD’s Hot Shop in Vancouver in 1976 and more recently PD’s Hot Shop/Skate Vancouver Island in Qualicum Beach this year.
He said the town has been friendly and welcoming and believes it is a stereotype the town is full of grumpy old people.
“I think we were kind of bracing ourselves for this kind of onslaught of curmudgeon and it didn’t happen.”
Ducommun grew up learning to skateboard with his older brother in Nanaimo in the 1970s, where his mother later opened a skateboard shop, and he said that is part of what brought him back to Vancouver Island. He looked at communities around the Island and the Sunshine Coast before settling on Qualicum Beach. His only encounter with the town prior to moving in was a skimboarding event he checked out approximately 15 years ago.
His shop is full of not just skateboards, parts and apparel, but also home to a small museum area where he plans to host exhibitions.
“Our concept is pop culture museum and the only thing that differentiates it from a museum is it’s slightly more recent stuff that’s on exhibit,” Ducommun said. “It’s primarily ’30s through ’90s, in the toys and skateboards.”
Transporting and cataloguing all the items, including vintage bikes, skateboards, snowboards and toys, will take some time, and some renovations will need to be completed, but PD said he hopes to put on an exhibit some time next year.
He has a collection of more than 100 bicycles and enjoys restoring and modifying different types, some dating back to the 1930s.
In addition to the original Vancouver location, which will remain open, Ducommun owns a location in central Japan. He said the opportunity came up when a Japanese friend, who he knew through snowboarding, announced he was returning to Japan and suggested opening a store there. Ducommun accepted and the location has been open in Gifu, south of Nagoya, since 1994 and he has been able to visit it a number of times.
Ducommun also owns Skull Skates, Canada’s oldest skateboard company, established in 1978.
When he tried out the local skatepark, he was disappointed.
“When it’s a skatepark that’s not great, kids go there and hang out and break bottles,” PD said. “And when it’s a skatepark that’s great, kids go and they skate there and they self-police it and they look after it and they clean up.”
He added he thinks the skatepark has potential and hopes to get involved with improvements.
He also has a tongue-in-cheek idea for a new tourism draw in the area: Sea monster tours to search for the elusive Cadborosaurus, also known as Caddy, a legendary sea serpent from Pacific Coast folklore.
“Maybe I’m just an old guy, but I think there should be some mystery in life and some things you can’t get an automatic answer to.”
The store is located at 164 2nd Ave West. in Qualicum Beach.