At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave

At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave
At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave
At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave
At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave
At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave
At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave
At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave

– Part one of ‘Buried parks and broken bones,’ a series about early skateboarding in Victoria and Vancouver

Forty-one years ago Tim Galavan sold so many skateboards and memberships to the Saanich Skatewave skatepark it’s a wonder the Saanich skate park didn’t work out.

Parents were buying them as Christmas gifts. Galavan remembers they were lined up out the door of the Skatewave store, a modular building that Galavan and his partner Bill Leininger leased.

“At Christmas we did well, a lot of kids had the skateboard and gear on their Christmas list,” recalls Galavan, now a retired City of Victoria employee. “We did well then, moms and dads came in.”

READ MORE: Skateboard advocates push for new skate park in Victoria

Forgotten now, the Skatewave was a way of life for the first generation of California style skateboarders in Victoria. Skaters from Washington State and the Lower Mainland would ferry over to visit and test it out.

It was built on a piece of land next to the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre and accessible from Finlayson Street (which was only connected to North Dairy Road around the same time).

Today, it is still there, a pile of concrete rubble and twisted rebar that was smashed up and buried under 20 feet of dirt.

The story of the Saanich Skatewave is one of broken dreams and broken bones.

From his parents’ house across the street on Finlayson, Craig Hall would skate most of the way to Mount Douglas secondary where he kept his board in his locker. After school and on weekends, he was at the Skatewave until finally, someone hurt themselves and Saanich closed it around 1982 or 1983 for safety and legal concerns. Hall, his friends and his mom stood before Saanich council in an attempt to save the skatepark.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Saanich paid someone with an excavator to jackhammer the concrete bowl. It took them weeks, Hall remembers. It was filled in and turned it into the surplus gravel parking lot that it is now.

“I used to watch him do it when I got home from school,” Hall recalls.

READ ALSO: Coalition campaigns to build new West Shore skate park

The Saanich Skatewave first came to light when Galavan, then 21 years old, approached Saanich council in a three-piece suit he bought for the occasion on a business loan. Galavan and friend Leininger had tried skateboarding in 1976. Galavan, a Nanaimo kid, had just started a business diploma at Malaspina College when he first tried skateboarding. At that point skateboarding as a fad wasn’t new, but it was experiencing a growth as new styles of skateboards permitted better balance and control.

“Originally, we were going to do it in Nanaimo,” recalled Galavan, who lives in Cowichan Valley. “We then realized Victoria would have more opportunity. We got more and more excited and made the decision to leave school. In our last semester, we moved to Victoria. We were ‘lock, stock and barrel’ working on site locations, financing, plans, and we connected with architects in California who’d built [skate parks].”

By the age of 23 Galavan and Leininger had worked out everything they needed to do. They leased a prefabricated office that was delivered. They had the Saanich Skatewave name and logo trademarked, using the image of local skater Brad “B-Rad” Carr as the frame for the cartoon skater in the logo.

Hall and Carr were among the city’s elite skaters and were both recruited into doing rebar to help expedite the Skatewave’s construction.

“We were there from the start, laying rebar,” Carr recalls. “We were the first to skate it too.”

By 1980 Galavan bowed out and left it to Leininger, who gave it one last full season of effort.

When the membership model failed, and few skaters were paying to be there, Leininger tried unsuccessfully to sell it.

“The plan was to build a bubble, just like the tennis bubble,” Galavan said. “But that never happened.”

The rain was always a problem. Summers there were busy, but few would pay to come back for the dry days of fall and winter.

Following its closure, however, Saanich just left it open to the public. That was fine with Carr and Hall, who kept on skating. It was the summer of 1980 and it was a wild one, with free access to anyone wanting to skate or BMX in the Skatewave.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

– With thanks to Craig Hall, Brad Carr, Steven Sandve, Budd Watt, and Tim Galavan. If you have more stories to share about the Skatewave, contact reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year. (Black Press Media file photo)
Winter blues a concern for Vancouver Islanders during COVID-19 Christmas season

Statistics show British Columbians anticipate worsening mental health

Jason Soukochoff is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, say Victoria police. (Courtesy VicPD)
Victoria police seek man with violent criminal history against elderly

Jason Soukochoff wanted on Canada-wide warrant for parole violations

Bystanders attend to a cyclist who is knocked to the pavement of Oak Bay Avenue. Witnesses say the cyclist was knocked off their bike in a dooring incident on Oak Bay Avenue at Fell Street at around 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 
(Daniel Opden Dries Photo)
UPDATED: VicPD tickets driver for ‘dooring’ cyclist on Oak Bay Avenue

Incident occurred at Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

Salon owner Philip Ferreira with the PPE collection box at The Natural Hair Salon, 618 View St. (Mariah Johal photo)
Victoria salon inspires more mask recycling

Anyone welcome to drop disposable masks in bin outside View Street shop

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Most Read