Friday, August 19, 2011

Join Me on a Journey

For the next couple of posts I want you, my reader, to do me a favour. I want you to take a deep breath, let go of the present and follow me.

Come with me to a place of luxury, a home that was built on success and hard work. Come and see The Shannon.

The year is 1911 and Benjamin Tingley Rogers wants to have the most luxurious home west of Toronto built on the outskirts of Vancouver. BC Sugar is doing well and Rogers is restless and ready for a new home. For the last ten years he and his family have lived in the Gabriola - a beautiful home to be sure - but now he wants more.

Rogers approaches the owner of the ten acres he wants, the Canadian Pacific Railway. The CPR is reluctant to part with any of the land they own but they sell to Rogers. The ten acres cost the Sugar King $40,400. (another version I have heard is that the land was bought from a pioneer dairy farmer, William Shannon. There seems to be no dispute however that the name of this estate is because of the farmer)

It was the beginning of a recession but Rogers wanted his estate and why shouldn't he have it? He had worked hard for everything he had and helped to build this city. He hired architects Somervell and Putnam to design his dream and the gatehouse above was the first building to be completed. Followed by the coach house.

Charles Bentall was the contractor hired to make this dream a reality. He was responsible for seeing that the vision of a forty room Beaux Arts, Georgian-style mansion became a solid reinforced brick and concrete structure.

For just a moment place yourself in Vancouver during the years of 1912 through 1915. The Vancouver Millionaires ice hockey team (later known as the Vancouver Maroons) compete in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the Western Canada Hockey League. In 1915 they won the Stanley Cup - took it from opponents the Ottawa Senators of the NHA.

The last spike of the Canadian Northern Railway which ran from Quebec to Vancouver was driven into the ground. World War I was raging across the sea. The first train from the east on the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway arrived in Vancouver. There was a depression going on - war seems to do that to countries - but men were working. They were building a mansion for the Rogers' family.
Construction of this elaborate estate was progressing well. B.T. Rogers, who happened to be an avid gardener, laid out the formal Italianate gardens. Rogers was going to get his wish and The Shannon was going to be the most luxurious, elegant estate west of Toronto.

But on June 18, 1918 tragedy struck. Benjamin Tingley Rogers died in his bedroom in Gabriola, leaving his masterpiece unfinished.

Join me on Monday for more of this journey and find out about the progression of The Shannon.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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