Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ramsey and Chow

Remember when I wrote on the film industry in Vancouver and featured this building? Well then I didn't know anything about it but now I do.

This is the Ramsey Brothers and Company warehouse built in 1912 when this was an important industrial area of Vancouver.

This used to be a large manufacturing and warehouse complex for the Ramsey brothers, in fact the photo I saw at shows this as one large block  structure, all the same height.  This Edwardian-era manufacturing and warehouse structure was located just south of the city's port and rail lines meaning the warehouse could easily facilitate the shipping of product ingredients and later finished goods. Since the warehouse is located across the street from Roger's Sugar Ltd refinery location also made it easier to get the sugar needed for food production.

The company's founder and proprietor James Ramsey was active in public service as well. He was active on the Vancouver Board of trade, a city alderman and later an MLA for Vancouver.

Many industries have gone into the development of Vancouver. Fishing, lumber and of course the railway are all notable industries. But we can't forget gold either.

Many people, among them Chinese immigrants, were lured to British Columbia by Gum San, the Gold Mountain.  This mosaic is on East Pender in Chinatown.

The gold rush in California was winding down so many travelled to the Fraser River where once again gold had been discovered. And that is just one of the gold rushes that brought fortune seekers to pass through this area.

At 432 Richards Street is a building that is now home to The Century House Restaurant and Bar but in 1911 and 1912 when it was built the Canada Permanent Mortgage Company resided here. This company helped build our city and country by giving mortgages to miners, farmers, fishermen, cattle ranchers and other newly arrived immigrants that needed a place to live in.

This building shows a sophisticated Beaux-Arts architectural style and the skilled craftsmen used high quality materials inside and out. Which is probably the reason it is still standing and looking good close to a hundred years later.

This was a significant design by architect John Smith Davidson Taylor. The building was designed to be enlarged in the future with the addition of two more storeys since everyone was expecting continued economic growth.

This next building is not as elegant looking as the one above. But it is a part of our history too.

Built in 1903 the Lim Sai Hor Association Building has historical value due to its association with the Chinese scholar Kang You-wei. Kang You-wei set up the Vancouver branch of the Chinese Empire Reform Association. The Association is important because it strengthened the connection between Chinese immigrants and their homeland.

(This is a view of the building from Shanghai Alley. )
This structure is common of buildings built in Chinatown at the time. The storefront and cheater storey are an important remnant of the original three storey building that faced Shanghai Alley. The alley was the main thoroughfare for traffic in those days.  (You may remember that I wrote on the Shanghai Alley in August of 2010)

The bay windows on the third and the added fourth floors symbolize the alterations made to the entire north section of this block perhaps by architect Samuel Buttery Birds.

(This alley on the south side of the building connects to Shanghai Alley. In the above picture taken from Shanghai Alley you can see the other end of it by the building.)

The Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Benevolent Association (an incorporation of the Lim Sai Hor Tong and the Kow Mock Association) moved to the upper floors in 1923. (The Lim Sai Hor Association had dissolved in 1910)

Chinese Canadian architect W.H. Chow redesigned the Carrall Street frontage from the grandiose, colonial style it was to an ambiguous, unimposing facade which was similiar to many Chinatown buildings at the time. The alterations are an important example of Chow's work which regrettably remains largely undocumented and unrecognized.

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