Monday, August 22, 2011

Sojourn at The Shannon

When I left on Friday it was June 1918 and B.T. Rogers had died in his bed at the Gabriola estate - never having lived in The Shannon or seen the completion of his dream estate.

The Great War, The War to End All Wars, World War I was still on and would be for another few months. Mary Rogers was left to raise seven children alone and had to  consider what to  do with her husband's dream.

Mary must have been made of strong stuff because not only did she manage to raise the children but she also completed her husband's dream estate.

Work continued on The Shannon estate and in 1925 Mary Rogers and her brood left their home at the Gabriola and moved into the luxurious surroundings.

Life at The Shannon was grand. The time period was the Roaring Twenties - the war was over and people were back to enjoying life. The prestigious Parisian firm, L. Alavoine & Company, had been hired to do the interior design. The house itself employed a gardener, cooks, maids, a butler, a nurse, and a chauffeur - twelve in all. Music played from the pipe organ ordered from New York, filling the grounds with sweet sounds. (When I visited last week a pianist was playing and the classical music lent an air of the past to the grounds.)
It is fitting that music still be played today since Mary Isabella Rogers had an appreciation for music and an interest in the arts. She was also a charitable woman. Every year she would hold a Christmas party for local children and was certain to make sure that each received a magnificent gift.

The Rogers family also owned cinema cameras and what was likely the first home movie filmed in Vancouver was filmed on The Shannon grounds. It was entitled Bastard Love and, if you are a film buff, there are still copies available today.

Life was splendid but times do change. In 1936 all the children were grown and Mary decided that The Shannon was just too big for her now. She sold the property and moved to a more modest dwelling on Angus Drive.

1936 was the middle of the Great Depression and mining promoter Austin Taylor bought the property for $105, 600 - less than ten times the total taxes. The assessment of the property at the time was $270, 400. So Taylor got a great deal.

So the estate that Benjamin Tingley Rogers had imagined and built had been completed. Although B.T. Rogers never lived there his ashes were strewn in the ornamental gardens and his widow made sure that the residence was completed. Her and her children lived there for many years before moving on. And guess what? I have more photos and more to tell you but  that is for the next entry.

Until the next time, I hope you find the beauty around you.

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