The North Arm of the Fraser – Industry in 1918

In October 1918, with the First World War nearly over, a group known as “The Joint Committee of the Boards of Trade of South Vancouver, Richmond and Point Grey” began to lobby the Federal Government to dredge the twelve miles of the North Arm of the Fraser between the river mouth and New Westminster. The shallow water in the North Arm at low tide caused fishing vessels, tugs and other vessels with a greater than three foot draft to run aground, stopping traffic to industries along its banks until higher water. This limited the amount of raw materials and product the industries could ship and discouraged new industry from building in the area. In an effort to motivate the government to their ends, the Joint Committee published a “memorial” for the attention of the Hon. F.B. Carvell, Minister of Public Works for the Conservative Government of the time, titled “The North Arm of the Fraser: Its Industries, Its Possibilities: A Plea for its Development”.

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The panoramic cover photo of the “memorial” shows some businesses in Marpole, which had changed its name from Eburne two years earlier. Shown are the Eburne Gravel Company and Eburne Sash, Door and Lumber, both at the foot of Hudson Street. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 1-5.

The document was signed by a diverse collection of politicians, industrialists, business owners, mariners and other citizens, all of them putting forth their justification for the dredging of the river. It also included a wonderful collection of photographs showing the North Arm and the industries along its shores in the early twentieth century.

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The first photo in the body of the memorial is this one of the North Arm Jetty. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 6-10.

The North Arm Jetty had been built and the mouth dredged some years before allowing vessels to enter the river on any stage of the tide and be protected from wind as they did so. Since then it was felt that the greater outflow caused lower levels farther up the North Arm and several shallow spots in the river preventing vessels with a deeper draft from proceeding up river until high tide. Logs would have to be placed into booming grounds down river where they could be picked up by smaller tugs rather than be delivered straight to the mills, increasing towing costs.

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The Huntting-Merritt Lumber Co. mill. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 19.

The Huntting-Merritt Lumber Company shingle mill was located at the foot of Granville Street on the Vancouver side of the river. They operated eleven shingle machines, day and night, and employed 100 men. Next door, the Eburne Sawmills Limited mill was having a difficult time handling logs and had to dredge their booming ground to allow the mill to keep employing 125 men at their mill.

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Logs bound for the Canadian Western Lumber Company are towed upstream toward the CP Railroad bridge. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 20.

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The Eburne Gravel Company Plant. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 21.

The Eburne Gravel Company sold builders’ supplies and coal and claimed that the difficulty of towing on the river cost them an additional 25 to 30 cents per ton for coal and 10 to 15 cents per yard of sand or gravel.

1987 91 22

The Graham Evaporating Plant at Marpole. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 22.

The Graham Evaporating Plant produced desiccated vegetables and green, dried, evaporated and canned apples, employing about 100 people. They handled about 25 to 30 tons of vegetables a day and employed 100 people. Most of their product was transported by “team” or rail but they felt that dredging the river would give them the opportunity to ship product by water, reducing costs.

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The Eburne Steel Company. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 23.

The Eburne Steel Company produced bar iron and steel ingots as well as other wartime necessities. They employed about 80 men. They were entirely dependent on rail transportation to receive their iron ore and ship out their products and said they would require tug and scow facilities to fully realize their business goals.

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The Dominion Creosoting and Lumber Limited lumber mill. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 24.

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The Dominion Creosoting and Lumber Limited creosoting plant. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 25-27.

The Dominion Creosoting and Lumber Limited operation in South Vancouver was also hampered by the problems of shipping their product to market. Their lumber mill employed 120 men. The creosoting operation had been idled because of a lack of creosote which was shipped from England. It was expected that when the war was over, this part of the plant would reopen and employ another 30 men. Their plant had the use of 1200 feet of river frontage. An improvement in shipping ability would greatly improve the profitability of their business. They claimed that theirs was only one of forty or fifty available industrial sites on the North Arm which could be developed if only the shipping issue could be rectified.

1987 91 36-40

The Canadian Western Lumber Company Limited mill at Fraser Mills is shown here with their fleet of tugs Joyful, Fearful, Cheerful, Gleeful and Dreadful. The Stern wheeler Senator Jansen is on the right and an unidentified small freighter loads on the left. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 36-40.

The Canadian Western Lumber Company Limited had a large operation at Fraser Mills, upriver from New Westminster. In their submission to the request for dredging they described the difficulty experienced by vessels going to their plant:

If the vessel and their tow enter the river at the beginning of the flood they can make it as far as Eburne as the force of the tide is spent and have enough water remaining to carry them through the Eburne Bridge, the Railway Bridge and Mitchell’s Bridge at Fraser Avenue. They then have to stay with their tows for 24 hours before being able to move again on the flood tide. On this flood they can make it as far as the New Westminster City Limits where they have to wait another 24 hours before proceeding to the mills past New Westminster.

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The Small and Bucklin Lumber Company Limited mill, New Westminster. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 11.

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The Brunette Saw Mill Company mill. In the background is the Iowa Lumber and Timber Company mill. City of Richmond Archives photo 1987 91 12.

The Small and Bucklin Lumber Company and the Brunette Sawmill Company each employed more than 200 men and both reiterated the complaints of other industries along the North Arm. Both plants were in New Westminster and had to wait for a couple of tides for logs to be delivered to their mills.

1987 91 13

The Dominion Shingle and Cedar Co. is shown here in a photo taken from the old Queensborough Bridge. The skyline of New Westminster can be seen behind. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 19 13.

The Dominion Shingle and Cedar Company was located “at Lulu Island Bridge” (the old Queensborough Bridge) and employed about 50 men.

1987 91 14

The Westminster Mill Company plant at New Westminster. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 14.

The Westminster Mill Company, manufacturers of red cedar shingles, operated two mills just below New Westminster which employed 200 men. Most of the logs used in the mill were brought up the river and delays in delivery due to low water levels seriously impacted their bottom line.

The arguments must have had some effect as dredging did take place on the North Arm in 1918. Reports indicate that a dredge tore out a two inch steel waterline that Jacob Grauer had installed from the mainland to supply water to his store and butcher shop as well as his neighbors at Eburne on Sea Island.

1987 91 15-18

The final image in the document shows a tug towing a boom up river and another tug bringing a barge down river past the wooded tip of Eburne Island as a BC Electric Railway Interurban Tram heads to New Westminster. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 91 15-18.

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.