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Chilliwack Craftsman Home Threatened

posted by: The Royal Hotel Chilliwack on: November 14, 2018 04:32:14 PM

photo credit: Deborah Maloney

Located at 46239 Hope River Road is a large Craftsman style home surrounded by beautiful green lawns and manicured shrubbery; constructed in 1910 by Thomas Gibbens. He arrived from Saskatchewan in 1907 with his younger sister Lydia and promptly began buying and selling land. Mr. Gibbens went on to build many impressive homes in Chilliwack including this home on Hope River Road; his third residential build.

This grand home contains many of the architectural details found in typical craftsman homes such as a partially inset /partially projecting front porch, an overhanging second story, square porch columns and balusters, wide overhanging eaves and exposed rafters as well as double hung windows.

Thomas Gibbens married Helen Elizabeth Howsen in February, 1930 and after a month long Hawaiian honeymoon the newlywed couple began married life in their Hope River Road home. The couple were both very involved with the community and held many social events in their Fairfield Island home.

Chilliwack Progress, June 19, 1930

Chilliwack Progress, Dec. 31, 1930

In April 1931 Mrs. Gibbens hosted a tea for the ladies of the IODE (International Order of Daughters of the Empire) with special guest Dr. Helen Stewart in attendance. Dr. Stewart was the librarian-director of the Fraser Valley’s Carnegie Demonstration Library. Chilliwack had been chosen as the home for the Fraser Valley’s demonstration library nine months earlier and Dr. Stewart spoke about the success of the program during the afternoon tea.

Chilliwack Progress, April 16, 1931

Sister Lydia Gibbens died at the young age of 56 in 1929. Mr. Gibbens was also left a widower in 1933 after the untimely death of his wife Helen. Later that same year his niece Edna came from Saskatchewan to “keep house” for Uncle Thomas. Edna married in 1945 and continued living in the home on Hope River Road with her husband Jack McDonald (until his sudden death in February 1947) and uncle.

Thomas Gibbens never married again and passed away in January 1949 at the age of 91. Niece Edna sold the home shortly after her uncle’s passing.

Chilliwack Progress, Jan. 12, 1949

Chilliwack Progess, August 16, 1950

101 Hope River Road - new home of Dr. Robert Blyth

Unfortunately the fate of this beautiful craftsmen home and property remains in peril. Recently the home and surrounding property was purchased by a developer with plans to build townhouses. The hope for the community is that the well-kept home could be included in the new townhouse development rather than being demolished.

It is possible to preserve this piece of Chilliwack’s history – it just takes a forward thinking developer to make it a reality.  

photo credit: Deborah Maloney
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