Arrested Development – Sturgeon Bank

Over the past century there have been many proposals to develop Sturgeon Bank for various uses. Projects included deep sea ports, landfills for garbage, airports and recreation areas. None of the developments got off the ground but it is interesting to see the vision that some people and organizations have had for the area over the years.

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The 1912 plan for Sturgeon Bank included rail and highway links as well as miles of dock space for shipping. City of Richmond Archives, accession 1264.

Probably the most ambitious of these proposals was put forward in 1912 by the Vancouver Harbour and Dock Extension Company. The plan included an enclosed deep sea port with six piers 1 1/2 miles long each, an enormous log pond, a direct highway link to New Westminster and a railway, complete with a five mile-long tunnel under Vancouver to the False Creek rail yards. The proposal was estimated to cost $30 Million.

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An artist’s conception of what the 1912 Sturgeon Bank Harbour development would have looked like. City of Richmond Archives, accession 1264.

A 1928 proposal suggested that Sturgeon Bank would be an ideal location for an airport featuring a large field for wheeled aircraft, two large enclosed seaplane basins, a pylon for mooring airships and a large terminal. Sea Island appears to remain undisturbed farmland.

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An artist’s conception from 1928 of the proposed Sturgeon Bank Aerial Depot shows a busy aerodrome with seaplane basins and airship mooring. City of Richmond Archives, photograph 1984 21 1.

Development proposals slowed down through the depression and war years but began again during the 1950s. In 1957 and 1958 proposals showed development on Sea Island as well as Lulu Island and for the first time included some green space.

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This 1957 proposal showed development of Sturgeon Bank on Lulu and Sea Islands with large commercial and industrial areas, docks on the North and South Arms and, for the first time, some recreational area with parks and a beach. City of Richmond Archives, Sturgeon Bank Reference File.

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This 1958 suggestion had room for airport expansion as well as industrial dock space. City of Richmond Archives, Industries Reference File.

In 1962 a project was brought forward by a company named Terra Nova Developments Ltd. suggesting that Sturgeon Bank would be an ideal place for a sanitary landfill. The concept would have had the twofold benefit of providing a place for disposal of household and industrial waste for the Lower Mainland and the creation of new land for use as industrial and/or recreational use.

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The 1962 proposal by Terra Nova Development Ltd. showed Sturgeon Bank plotted for land reclamation by use as a sanitary landfill. A deep sea shipping channel with turning basin is included in the drawing, allowing dock access for future industrial development. City of Richmond Archives, Industries Reference File.

The project would have seen covered barges filled with domestic refuse, hogfuel, millpond waste, demolition rubble harbour and river debris and other commercial tradewaste (excluding abattoir waste, distillery refuse and toxic chemicals) brought to the site at night and offloaded. The refuse would then be immediately covered with sand.

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The 1962 landfill project would have resulted in land reclamation for the purposes suggested on this aerial photo. The permissions from the Departments of Fisheries, Transport and Public Works had all been granted for this proposal. City of Richmond Archives, Industries Reference File.

In 1968 an enormous, but far greener project was proposed which would have seen the area transformed into a recreational paradise. A 1000 boat marina on the Middle Arm, three “lakes” with swimming beaches, two golf courses, a rowing channel between the Middle and South Arms, a nature preserve, wharves and a hotel complex were all envisioned as possible in this ambitious development. Proximity to the airport would have provided easy access for tourists who wanted to take advantage of the facilities and enjoy the panoramic views afforded by the location.

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A photograph of an artist’s model pf the proposed recreational development of Sturgeon Bank is shown in this photo. City of Richmond Archives, accession 2003 18.

None of these development proposals took hold, mostly due to a perceived lack of economic return for the investment, but you can be sure that a walk along the west dyke would have looked very different than it does today if any of these projects had gone forward.

Farming in the Round – The Ewen Cattle Barn

The Ewen Cattle Barn, also known as the Keur Barn, was one of Richmond’s more unusual heritage structures, a type of barn that was unique in British Columbia and rare in Canada. Although it looked round, the barn was in fact polygonal, having 12 sides. It was representative of a time when agricultural practices in Europe and North America were undergoing reform through mechanization, the development of modern farming practices and the redesign of farm structures for increased efficiency.

1990 13 Ewen Barn aerial second from last in series

This aerial view shows the Ewen Barn’s location in relation to the Lafarge Cement plant at upper right and the Annacis Channel. Lion Island, the location of Alexander Ewen’s Ewen Cannery, is just visible at top right. No. 9 Road runs left to right in the photo. (City of Richmond Archives Accession 1990 13)

One of the aspects of this “High Farming”, as it was called in agricultural journals of the day, was the design of appropriate animal housing, with a focus on efficient use of space to allow animals to be kept warm and well fed over the winter. Round or polygonal barns fit this requirement well, although their more complex structure and higher construction costs compared to conventional barns made them less appealing to the average farmer. As a result, they tended to be built by farm owners who had an interest in the new farming practices and who had the capital to buy and outfit large farms.

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An upper level plan of the barn shows the granary and ramp leading to the second floor space. (City of Richmond Archives 1990 13 6)

This was the case with the Ewen Barn. It was built by pioneer salmon cannery owner Alexander Ewen, who had purchased 640 acres of land in east Richmond in the 1880s. The barn was erected around 1893. It was built of red cedar, logged and cut in the Lower Mainland and used a combination of traditional heavy timber framing and light timber framing systems.

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A drawing showing a cross section view of the barn with its cattle stalls below and second floor space. A cow and a man are added for scale.(City of Richmond Archives 1990 13 5)

Unusually large for a barn of this type, it was 100 feet in diameter and 50 feet high with two floors, the lower floor being the stable floor with the capacity to house and feed 100 cattle and the upper floor used for hay and equipment storage. The stable floor took only one quarter of the building’s height, leaving three quarters of the interior volume available for storage. Cattle stalls were arranged in a circle around the outside of the lower floor and openings in the upper floor allowed feed to be dropped down to the hungry mouths below.

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A team of horses haul a wagon of hay with the Ewen Barn in the background in this image, ca. 1900. The barn’s roof is still fitted with the rooftop ventilator which was removed in the 1940s. (City of Richmond Archives photo 2009 2 19)

A rectangular granary was added to the outside  of the barn shortly after it was built, and a ramp was provided from the ground to the barn’s second floor so that wagons could be driven up to unload hay and feed, circling around the circumference of the structure and down the ramp again. Built before electrical power was available, daylight was the only illumination available. Fitted with few windows, open doors admitted most of the light. An eight foot wide roof ventilator mounted atop the barn’s huge conical roof admitted light to the upper floor, although this was removed during reroofing in the 1940s.

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The Ewen Barn in 1979. The rectangular granary and ramp to the second floor are clearly visible. (City of Richmond Archives photo 1984 4 58)

The farm served by the Ewen Barn became one of the largest beef producers in Richmond, with as many as 4500 cattle a year being fattened and sent to slaughter at its peak. It also grew to be the largest Jersey cow breeding  establishment on Lulu Island. The barn continued to house cattle until the mid 1970s when it fell into disuse and began to deteriorate.

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A view of the deteriorating barn, ca. 1996. (City of Richmond Archives photo 2003 17 1)

In an attempt to preserve the barn, work was started by the Richmond Heritage Advisory Committee, spearheaded by Committee member Graham Turnbull, which included detailed reports on the barn’s historical context, architectural details and history. In 1995, at the request of the Committee, the barn was designated a National Historic Site by the Canadian Historic Sites and Monuments Board. In 1998 the Committee contracted Architect and Heritage Advocate Robert Lemon to prepare a report and facilitate a Conservation Workshop aimed at exploring options for the barn’s preservation. It was determined that the building could be stabilized at a cost of $112,000. A non-profit Society, The Friends of the Ewen Barn Society, was formed in order to begin the process of raising the money for the stabilization work and to negotiate with the property’s owner.

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In February 1999 the old barn collapsed in a windstorm. (City of Richmond Archives photo 2006 24 57)

Unfortunately, nature cares nothing for the preservation of old barns and in February 1999 a windstorm caused the collapse of the barn, at the time believed to be the oldest structure in Richmond. The barn was a total loss, although some of it remains as part of another heritage structure in Richmond. Salvaged lumber from the barn was used to repair the wharves at Britannia Heritage Shipyards.

 

Registered Trademark – Commercial Art from the B.C. Packers Collection

The City of Richmond Archives acquired a large number of records of British Columbia Packers Ltd. at the time of the closure of its head office in Steveston. Among the records transferred to the Archives were an extensive series of files relating to the application for, registration, and maintenance of trademarks used and administered by the company and its predecessor and related companies. The records include trademark registrations, correspondence, product packaging, and hundreds of different labels that were in use from 1890 to 1999. Shown in this posting are a few of the trademarked labels owned by BC Packers which illustrate some of the themes used in marketing salmon.

Alexander Ewen was a pioneer in the canning industry on the Fraser River. In 1902 he became the president and largest shareholder of a new firm, The British Columbia Packers' Association. Shown here Ewen Brand Sockeye Salmon label from that era.

Alexander Ewen was a pioneer in the canning industry on the Fraser River. In 1902 he became the president and largest shareholder of a new firm, The British Columbia Packers’ Association. Shown here is an Ewen Brand Sockeye Salmon label from that era.

From the earliest years of salmon canning, the graphics used on the labels tended to be colourful and eye-grabbing to attract the consumer. Some of the earliest labels were printed in Victoria by the Colonist.

An 1891 Excelsior Brand salmon label. The cannery using this label was at Ladner's Landing, owned by E.A. Wadhams. The company shipped its product through its agents in San Francisco, D.L. Beck & Sons.

An 1891 Excelsior Brand salmon label. The cannery using this label was at Ladner’s Landing, owned by E.A. Wadhams. The company shipped its product through its agents in San Francisco, D.L. Beck & Sons.

Labels were sometimes printed and applied closer to the final market of the product, the cans being shipped “bright”, ie. without labels.

This label, also from 1891, was printed by the Canada Bank Note Co. in Montreal and included handling instructions in English and in French.

This label, also from 1891, was printed by the Canada Bank Note Co. in Montreal and included handling instructions in English and in French.

Trademarks had to be registered with the appropriate government department, in the case of Flagship Brand, the Department of Agriculture, Trade Mark and Copyright Branch in Ottawa. The registration document included a complete description of the label as shown below.

The trademark registration document for Flagship Brand Salmon, 1893.

The trademark registration document for Flagship Brand Salmon, 1893.

The Flagship Brand label was enticing on a number of levels. The “Flagship of modern pattern” and the Ensign and Union Jack made a patriotic connection to the British Motherland. The beautiful, wild British Columbia scenery showed the beauty of the land where the fish was caught, a wilderness tamed by the modern steam train on the right, all surrounded by a bright, eye-catching orange.

Flagship Brand, 1893.

Flagship Brand, 1893.

The majority of the BC fishery’s output was shipped for sale in Britain and nations of the British Empire, and as such, labels often carried some reference to the Monarchy or the Empire to encourage sale to patriotic shoppers. This could be done symbolically, as in Rex Brand, or directly with the words “British Empire Product” on the label, or in both ways.

Rex Brand Salmon's trademark showed a salmon leaping through a crown.

Rex Brand Salmon’s trademark, ca. 1906, showed a salmon leaping through a crown. The brand was registered in Australia and New Zealand starting in 1905.

Dominion Brand Salmon labels bore the image of the British Lion with

Dominion Brand Salmon labels bore the image of the British Lion with “British Empire Product” written in a banner below. This image was seen on many BC Packers labels.

Emblem

Emblem Brand, first registered in 1903, also bore the British Empire Lion Logo, as well as a Union Jack and the floral emblems of the United Kingdom. Emblem Brand was registered in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and France.

Products sold in other countries often had distinct labeling. Rex Pearl was a brand registered in Australia.

An Australian label for Rex Pearl Choice Canadian Salmon.

An Australian label for Rex Pearl Choice Canadian Salmon.

Trademarks had to be registered in all the countries where the products were sold. Cascade Brand was a registered trade mark in many countries, including the Netherlands, as shown below.

A Dutch Trademark Registration Certificate for Cascade Brand Salmon, 1947

A Dutch Trademark Registration Certificate for Cascade Brand Salmon, 1927

Labels were often thematic, trying to reach the consumer by appealing to their aesthetics. Many gave colourful representations of the magnificent scenery of British Columbia, sure to catch the discerning housewife’s eye as she did her shopping.

Sunset Brand Chum Salmon, with beautiful scenery.

Sunset Brand Chum Salmon, Trademark first registered in 1907, showing beautiful British Columbia scenery.

Canyon Brand

Canyon Brand Canadian Red Salmon, from the 1930s.

Arbutus Brand

Arbutus Brand White Spring salmon. Arbutus was first registered in 1906.

Occasionally, Canadian stereotypes were used to sell salmon. Nansen Brand in particular used scenes of ice and snow to represent the wild country that the fish came from. The brand was registered in Australia, New Zealand and Canada starting around 1918.

Nansen Brand with a polar bear on an ice floe.

Nansen Brand with a polar bear on an ice floe.

Nansen Brand with dog sled and trapper

Nansen Brand with snowy scenery and a dog sled and trapper on skis.

Some labels attempted to evoke feelings of hearth and home and good times with friends. Examples include Dinner Bell, Household and Table Talk brands.

Dinner Bell Brand

Dinner Bell Brand Fancy Pink Canadian Salmon. Dinner Bell was registered in New Zealand from 1938 to 1951.

Household Brand Salmon

Household Brand Fancy Canadian Red Salmon, registered in Canada from 1919 to 1969.

Table Talk Brand

Table Talk Brand Choice Red Cutlets.

Others used sports and other popular modern activities to promote the sales of their products.

Derby brand for the horse racing fan

Derby brand for the horse racing fan, first registered in 1906.

Lacrosse brand

Lacrosse brand.

Aviator Brand

Aviator Brand.

Of all the labels used to market salmon, the one with the longest history must be Clover Leaf. One of the best known brands, it was originally registered by a New York company in 1890, being transferred to the British Columbia Packers Association around 1908. The Brand was used on many varieties of canned goods such as vegetables and soups as well as the seafood products that it is best known for. The brand is still in use today, passed on from BC Packers, and can be seen in just about any supermarket.

The Clover Leaf Brand is perhaps one of the best known and longest used trademarks from BC Packers.

The Clover Leaf Brand is perhaps one of the best known and longest used trademarks from BC Packers.

So, while BC Packers has gone and most of the trademarks controlled by it have vanished, one at least remains to remind us of the company’s long history of quality seafood production and its long connection to Richmond.

Vantage Point – Industry on the South Arm of the Fraser

Steveston Harbour showing canneries and fish boats, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 29

Steveston Harbour showing canneries and fish boats, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 29

A recent addition to the holdings of the City of Richmond Archives is an album of aerial photographs taken from 1959 to 1962 showing industry on the South Arm of the Fraser River, at New Westminster, and on the Upper Fraser.

The album was created by the New Westminster Harbour Commission with aerial photographs taken by George Allen.

Crown Zellerbach paper mill and wharf, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 28

Crown Zellerbach paper mill and wharf, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 28

Images from 1959 depict Steveston Harbour and the wharves of what were Richmond’s three major industrial plants on the South Arm: Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill, Canada Rice Mills, and LaFarge Cement.

Canada Rice Mills plant and wharf, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 27

Canada Rice Mills plant and wharf, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 27

The photographs were taken in the same year that the Deas Island (George Massey) Tunnel was opened.

La Farge Cement plant, showing Don and Lion Island, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 31

La Farge Cement plant, showing Don and Lion Island, 1959. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 87 31

The 52 photographs in the album are among a larger number of images that have been recently scanned as part of the ongoing Archives digitization program.