Friday, 5 November 2021

Business For Sale:
Family Pastimes Co-operative Games

Retiring Doukhobor seeks new owner to continue his family business of crafting cooperative board games about peace, health and ecology

Jim and Ruth Deacove

‘It’s time to retire’, says Jim Deacove. ‘’We haven’t widely advertised that Ruth and I are stepping down after 50 years of the co-operative game business, but word is getting round and a variety of offers are coming our way. The Sales Prospectus summarizes our offer. Some folks just want the portfolio of Intellectual Property.

‘Some want to move the business to another city. Some want to buy everything: the 100 acre farm, our house, the business. In the meantime it is a joy to come to the shop every day, read and answer the mail, fill the orders, make some more games in small batches. Just like the meaningful hobby that was started long ago, a social mission disguised as a business. Maybe 'Small is Beautiful' after all. Could be a perfect fit for a retired couple for a meaningful hobby.’

For details download the Family Pastimes Sale Prospectus. (PDF)

Contact: — Phone: 613-267- 4819.
               Family Pastimes, RR 4, Station Main, 796 Brooke Valley Road,
               Perth, Ontario, Canada K7H 3C6

Sale Prospectus summary:
  1. Registered trademark for next 12 years.
  2. No debt.
  3. Equipment — $222,000
  4. Finished goods — $95,000.
  5. Materials — $150,000.
  6. Intellectual property of every game, the artwork for labels, game faces, card parts, available at 10% royalty to Jim Deacove, annually on Gross Revenue.
  7. Books, like Co-operative Parlor Games (30 games, 36 pages)
  8. Rental use of all buildings: main shop, woodwork cottage, storage cottage, two 53-foot trailers for storage.
  9. Customer base from 50 years in business grew to $500,000 before the depression of 2008; since then, averaging $125,000 annually. Except during the Covid-19 period.
  10. Affiliates in the USA, Australia, and Europe.

  1. Jim Passing the Family Pastimes Torch: an interview with Jim and Ruth Deacove’, The Humm (Arts, Entertainment & Ideas in the Ottawa Valley), October 19, 2021.
  2. ‘Vaccine’ for a ‘Competitive Virus’, by Jim Deacove. Spirit Wrestlers, April 20, 2021.
  3. Cooperative games? Are you serious? A remarkable Canadian success story.’ By Jim Deacove, as retold to Koozma J. Tarasoff. In 150 Canadian Stories of Peace. An Anthology (2017), compiled by Gordon Breedyk, Mony Dojeiji, Koozma J. Tarasoff and Evelyn Voigt. Pages 265-266.
  4. Why I Wrote My Book on Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors?’, October 31, 2014. — Includes an illustrated feature on Jim Deacove.
  5. Film review: Krishnamurti’s Search for Truth.’ Film hosted by Jim Deacove, Cooperative Family Pastimes, Spirit Wrestlers website August 30, 2011.
  6. A Remarkable Evening With Cooperative Pioneers, Jim and Ruth Deacove’, Spirit Wrestlers January 22, 2011.
  7. Co-operative Games and the Inventor Jim Deacove’, August 6, 2008. — A full biography.
  8. Deacove farm (Perth, Ontario) Ploughshares board game.’ Hodge-Podge section of Spirit Wrestlers website July 23, 2006.
  9. Spirit of Co-operation in a Competitive Society’ (PDF), Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living, by Koozma J. Tarasoff (2002): pages 236-241.
  10. Spirit of Co-operation in a Competitive Society’ (PDF, 5.6 Mb), by Jim Deacove, in Spirit Wrestlers' Voices: Honouring Doukhobors on the Centenary of their migration to Canada, compiled and edited by Koozma J. Tarasoff (1999): pages 183-197.
  11. Jim Deacove, Board Game Designer, Board Game Geek.
  12. A Valley Gamemaker, by Mary Cooke, 2009, Seniors Young At Heart, Ever Learning.
  13. Jim Deacove, Author, Titles,
  14. 5 Questions with Board Game Designer Jim Deacove, PuzzleNation, July 17, 2014.
  15. Family Pastimes - Jim Deacove, The Games Journal, November 2000.
  16. Does Your Family Play Cooperative Games? Cooperative Games Family Pastimes, by Melissa Taylor.
  17. Meet Jim and Ruth Deacove in Canada, Facebook, February 3, 2012.
  18. Buddy the frog goes to Family Pastimes cooperative games!, video by Juan Uribe, Sep 14, 2009.
  19. Co-operative Games, podcast interview by Sandy Goldman, Each for All, September 11, 2018.
  20. Hope, Peace and Play: An Interview With Jim Deacove of Family Pastimes, Fair Play Games.
  21. Jim Deacove (Family Pastimes Cooperative Games), Friday Special Blend, with Chris White, CKCU FM 93.1 Radio, August 14, 2020.
  22. Local Cooperative Game Company Goes Digital, The Humm, March 2015 (PDF, 22MB), page 8.

Passing the Family Pastimes Torch: an interview with Jim and Ruth Deacove 
by Kris Riendeau, Editor & Publisher, The Humm, October 19, 2021.

When the world seems to be changing incredibly quickly, it’s good to know that some things are made to last. In the case of Family Pastimes, those things come in colourful boxes and contain imaginative and cooperative games! Owners Jim and Ruth Deacove have been running this delightful business in Brooke Valley for 50 years and are now well into their eighties. I have fond memories of playing such games as “Sleeping Grump” and “Max the Cat” with my own kids (who are now aged 27 and 30), so when I heard that the Deacoves were getting ready to sell this established business, I contacted them for more details. 

theHumm: Congratulations on 50 years in business! What first inspired you to create cooperative games, and how did you turn that passion into a business? 

When our girls first started playing games, they were always squabbling and first we questioned our parenting methods until we realized that the structure of the games caused the conflicts. After all, the point of the game was to beat each other. We looked around Ottawa game stores and couldn’t find any games that nurtured the family values we promoted, share toys, help one another, be kind to pets, find peaceful ways to settle problems, aso. Nada. So, necessity being the mother of invention, we started inventing them. Played our creations at birthday parties. Folks asked where they could buy them. Ergo, a cottage industry was born. 

Although the world has changed rather significantly over the past half-century, Family Pastimes has stayed true to the cooperative game model. What have been some of the biggest changes in your games and the way you market and sell them? 

With new equipment, we made our handcrafted versions look more professional. The basic rule of thumb for my designs has always remained, Play Together. That is, I don’t have people against people. What has evolved is that early on, I marketed the games as Everyone Wins or Everyone Loses. My thinking has evolved away from this rather competitive Win/Lose paradigm to How well did we all do? Now we measure the degree of success and there is no losing involved. Didn’t get all of our carrots harvested before winter arrived? How many did we get in? We started out selling at craft sales, then to retail stores, and now we sell on our website 

Why do you think it’s still important to offer kids (of all ages) cooperative, hands-on games to play?

What skills are fostered by playing Family Pastimes games that perhaps aren’t addressed by electronic toys and video games? The list is long from conducive to better health and liking one another; teamwork, shared decision making, openness, trust and safety, self worth and personal power, less aggressive behaviour, emotional maturity…all the myths about competition are dispelled. Cultural conditioning trains us to confuse success with trying to beat others. All games require overcoming some obstacle, but nowhere is it written that the obstacle must be other people. 

I understand that you are hoping to sell the business to someone new who can run it for the next 50 years. What kind of abilities and expertise would make someone a good match for this business?

Having a kind heart is essential. Family Pastimes is very much a social mission disguised as a business. As the business grew internationally, took on a fair-sized work force, the help of local business experts were necessary. Currently, Covid has made us small again and, to be honest, while we have been big and whoever takes on Family Pastimes again may choose to go big, they may realize what we are feeling now and that is that small is beautiful. 

Ruth and I are keeping the business almost at the level it was when we began 50 years ago, as a meaningful hobby. Digital printing, cutting and assembling parts, gluing game boards and boxes and so on are easily learned. It is a little more complicated preparing invoices and labeling cartons, because this is done by internet these days, but that also is easily learned. There are two, if not more, ways the hand-over could take place. A young couple with the technical skills in place could take over. But, also I picture a recently retired couple who are looking for a meaningful hobby would also be a perfect fit. In any case, interested folks can contact me at and I will send them a detailed Sales Prospectus.


  1. Mark Mealing, Kaslo, BC9 November 2021 at 10:34

    I'd love to afford to support this, but haven't the funds. I remember buying one of their games for the family back in the early 80s. Great idea, good games.

  2. Kathrin Winkler, Halifax, Nova Scotia9 November 2021 at 10:39

    As I prepare our white poppy wreaths here in Nova Scotia, I opened your email regarding your friends the Deacoves who created cooperative board games. I remember purchasing some for my children and incorporating cooperative games in my classroom throughout my teaching career. The link that you shared led me to a beautiful history of the white poppy campaigns in Ottawa. Thank you so much for this- wearing the white poppy year round, learning how to crochet them from a Muslim peace activist is a part of my life. Here is a link to two of the events we have had in Halifax.