Vancouver Icons: BC Sugar

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

The BC Sugar Refinery, a behemoth of a complex that you can’t avoid if you’ve ever driven down Powell Street, is Vancouver’s oldest industrial site. Dating back to 1890, the refinery is just four years older than the City of Vancouver itself. It’s frequently used in movie and television production and is often photographed, making it today’s Vancouver Icons photo feature.

Photo credit: Jeanette on Flickr

The refinery site was built up in stages, as was the waterfront property — much of the current land was water that has been filled in […] The BC Sugar property is 13.5 acres, and includes 20 buildings, a dock and a little park. There are a couple of art deco buildings from the 1940s, a 1950s-modern office building, and a 300-foot long, 50-foot high storage facility packed with mountains of raw sugar. When you walk through it the air is thick with sugar — when you come out you feel like you’ve been skim-coated in the stuff. [John Mackie – Vancouver Sun]

1945: Archives# CVA 586-3997. Photographer: Donn B.A. Williams.

Photo credit: under_volcano on Flickr

1910s: Archives# M-11-65.

Sugar Refinery
Photo credit: Adam Gaumont on Flickr

1977. Archives# CVA 780-341.

The site has its own steam plant housed in a 1941 art deco building. It has its own sewer grates, which read “BC Sugar.” It even has its own sugar museum, housed in an old garage built in 1916.

The museum has been closed for several years, but is still completely intact. It contains all sorts of artifacts: a model of the 1890 refinery, a Dominican sugar machete with a handmade sheath, and a “ladies pay envelope” from 1941, when a worker made $13.85 for a 40-hour week.

Incredibly, it also contains the original BC Sugar stock certificates issued to William Van Horne and Donald Smith of the CPR, dating to Oct. 17. 1890. Van Horne brought the railway across Western Canada; Smith drove the Last Spike at Craigellachie near Revelstoke. As Canadiana, it’s pure gold — just like the British Columbia Sugar Refinery. [John Mackie – Vancouver Sun]

British Columbia Sugar Refinery Sugar Refinery
Photo credit: Jeanette & Clayton Perry on Flickr

Office space
Photo credit: Adam Gaumont on Flickr

Other Vancouver Icons posts: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Museum of Anthropology, Fort Langley Community Hall, Christ Church Cathedral, Waterfront Station, Pacific Central Station, Randall Building Mural, East Van Cross, Robert Burns Statue in Stanley Park, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Flack Block, The Drop, Prospect Point Lighthouse, Engagement, Ovaltine Cafe, The English Bay Slide, Freezing Water #7, Cleveland Dam, Heritage Hall, School of Theology Building at UBC, Gate to the Northwest Passage, St Paul’s Hospital, Capilano Lake, Stawamus Chief, Nine O’Clock Gun, Malkin Bowl, Search, Vancouver Rowing Club, Echoes, Point Atkinson Lighthouse, English Bay Inukshuk, Hollow Tree, Hotel Europe, Lions Gate Bridge Lions, LightShed, Granville Bridge, 217.5 Arc x 13′, Canoe Bridge, Vancouver Block, Bloedel Conservatory, Centennial Rocket, Canada Place, Old Courthouse/Vancouver Art Gallery, Dominion Building, Science World, Gastown Steam Clock, SFU Burnaby, Commodore Lanes, Siwash Rock, Kitsilano Pool, White Rock Pier, Main Post Office, Planetarium Building, Lord Stanley Statue, Vancouver Library Central Branch, Victory Square, Digital Orca, The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible and recognizable to the public.

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