The proprietor of a beloved shop that’s been a fixture of Port Moody’s retail scene for more than 30 years has died.
Ray Stonehouse, 76, opened his Great Canadian Sportcard Company at the corner of St. Johns and Moody streets in 1989. Over the years, he and his wife, Susan, introduced generations of kids to the joys of collecting hockey, baseball and football cards while adults eyed their investment potential.
In fact, it was the latter that fuelled a boom in the hobby through the early 1990s, spawning dozens of similar shops. But as the market flooded with cards and manufacturers looking to cash in, and the burgeoning internet allowed collectors to connect with each other directly, many of those shops disappeared.
The Stonehouse’s, though, endured through the personal interactions they forged with customers young and old, many of whom brought their own kids in years later to hear stories about the players glossed onto the cardboard cards or admire the memorabilia like signed Vancouver Canucks’ jerseys, ticket stubs and pucks displayed on the walls and in glass cabinets.
“I’m still like an eight-year-old kid,” Ray Stonehouse told the Tri-City News in 2020. “I haven’t outgrown my enthusiasm to open a new batch of cards and see if there’s something special inside.”
But Stonehouse’s passion for sports wasn’t limited to the commerce of waxed and foiled packs of cards. For 25 years he owned the Ridge Meadows Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He also served as the Junior B circuit’s president from 2016 to 2020, when he stepped down to become a senior advisor to his successor, Trevor Altos.
In a statement on its website, the PJHL paid tribute to Stonehouse’s involvement with the league as an “integral part” of its growth.
The general manager of the PJHL’s Port Moody Panthers, Brian Wiebe, said Stonehouse was “truly one of a kind and will be deeply missed.”
The team’s Twitter feed added, “Our league wouldn’t be what it is today without this great man’s dedication.”
In 2020, Stonehouse’s efforts to build junior hockey were recognized with his nomination to the BC Hockey Hall of Fame. But a celebration of 2020 inductees had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been rescheduled to 2022.
“We look forward to honouring his life and achievements in hockey,” said a statement on the Hall’s Facebook page.