Friday, March 11, 2011

Vancouver Corner

Although the sign outside now says Sinclair Centre when this four-storey, classically designed structure was built from 1911 to 1913 it was known as the Customs Examining Warehouse and is adjacent to what was then the post office.

David Ewart - the Chief Architect of the Department of Public Works - headed the team that is responsible for this design.

It is one of four federally-owned buildings on a site known as Block 15. This building looks like it is divided into three parts - a base which is made of rough faced stone and smooth brick; the shaft is shown by shallow brick pilasters with segmented arches on the upper floors and finally a prominent cornice suggests the capital of a column. The steel frame and reinforced concrete was a modern construction technique unique to Vancouver at the time. (The Great Fire of 1886 was still fresh in some people's minds I guess.)

Some of the character defining elements to this impressive warehouse are its classically inspired design that uses what was then modern building techniques; the upper walls are faced with red clay brick trimmed with sandstone; the changing size, shape and pattern of the windows; the steel and concrete superstructure and the overall masonry. Whether you are walking along Hastings or Howe or Cordova you can't miss this building. Even the entrance is interesting.

As I have said before there are mosaics around the city and some of them tell the story of this beautiful city. Like this one.

This mosaic, Vancouver Corner, may be one a person would just glance at but once you read what it stands for it really makes you pay attention. And be thankful for what you have.

Far away in a town called St. Julien in Belgium there is a piece of Vancouver buried there and watched over by a statue called the Brooding Soldier.

The story goes like this: In the Second Battle of Ypres, where chlorine gas was released on French and Canadian troops, the Canadians - who were fighting for the first time as a nation instead of a British Colony - proved themselves equal to any fighting force. Especially a Lt. Donald Bellew of the British Columbia 7th Battalion, the Duke of Connaughts Own Rifles.

On April 24, 1915 the enemy was 100 metres away and the reinforcements destroyed when Lt. Bellew and another soldier decided to fight it out. The other soldier was killed and Bellew wounded but he kept firing until the ammunition failed. Then he took a rifle and smashed his machine gun before being taken prisoner.

Bellew survived and when he returned to Vancouver he read in the newspaper that he had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

This is the Brooding Soldier monument. It shows a Canadian soldier with his head bowed and was designed by  Frederick Chapman Clemesha. It stands 11 metres high and is located at what was known as Vancouver Corner during that war.  It was unveiled on July 8, 1923 by the Duke of Connaught and a tribute was given by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch. He said:

The Canadians paid heavily for their sacrifice and the corner of earth on which this Memorial of gratitude and piety rises has been bathed in their blood. They wrote here the first page in that Book of Glory which is the history of their participation in the war.

These photos are compliments of Google Images and Wikipedia. I didn't take them personally. But I thought it would be nice to see what I was talking about.
I hope you find the beauty around you.

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