Monday, July 12, 2010

Ain't It Sweet?

And I am not talking revenge. I am referring to the sweetness of sugar. Those glittery granules that taste so good but can also be so bad for some and that our society loves to devour.

Here in Vancouver, not far from where I live, is the British Columbia Sugar Refining Company. You may also know it as Rogers Sugar. The building is interesting but the history even more so.

In 1890 a young man from New Orleans came to a little town in Western Canada called Vancouver. He had worked for E.J. Gay's Sugar Refinery in New Orleans and another in New York. But Ben Rogers was a young man who dreamed of owning his own refinery so he set about to do just that.

With some funds from his present employer and family, Rogers approached the head of CPR at the time, William Van Horne, to invest. Although Van Horne and another director, R.B. Angus didn't comment during the meeting with Rogers the next day both men as well as other directors would take shares in the company. At the age of 24, Ben Rogers became president of the newly incorporated B.C. Sugar on March 26, 1890.

Before the refinery was built and people put to work Rogers went to the city and managed to get $40,000, free water for ten years and would pay no taxes for 15 years. Once he got those concessions, B.C. Sugar was on its way.

That is the building as it stands today. One day as I was riding the bus a man beside me explained how the front was done. The entire building isn't brick, just the front. What the workers did was build the brick front in sections on the ground then hoist them up and attach it to the main building. And over a hundred years later it is still standing.

I was told by one of my readers that he really enjoyed this posts and I gotta say that I am having a blast writing them. I am learning about my city - at least parts of it - and seeing the beauty that is here.

I hope you find the beauty around you as well.

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  1. Hi Karen, funny that you're talking about sugar and I'm your dentist LOL! Seeing your photo of the sugar refinery brings back memories of looking out the back window of our judo club back in the 1960s and seeing it in the distance directly north of us. I remember there was sign that read "Home of Rogers Golden Syrup." The Vancouver Judo Club was on the 1100 block of Hastings Street, just a block and half west of Clark Drive on the north side. There was a Lions burger joint across the street from us, which is now the Pink Pearl Chinese restaurant. Just to the west of the judo club was the Hastings Viaduct. I remember my brother and I once went to the junk yard under the viaduct and climbed on the pile of wrecked cars. BTW, I really like reading your posts! Thanks a lot!

  2. Interesting that I stumbled across this great grandfather was Ben Rogers. I assume you have also visited his two heritage homes here that still stand? Gabriola and Shannon?

  3. I have written on Gabriola but not Shannon. I will have to research that one and make it out there sometime. The link to read about the Gabriola is . Enjoy and if you want to talk with me more my email is