5 things you didn’t know about the B.C. Sugar Refinery

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Each week we’ll uncover some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week we take on the B.C. Sugar Refinery.

1. It started with an American in Montreal 

rogers-sugar
Benjamin Tingley Rogers

While visiting Montreal in 1889, Benjamin Tingley Rogers heard about business opportunities near the C.P.R.’s newest and most western terminal in the new city of Vancouver. With plans to import and refine raw sugar, Rogers believed that Vancouver would be the perfect location to expand his family’s burgeoning sugar empire.

2. Rogers got a pretty sweet deal

BC-sugar-rogers
Vancouver Archives B.C. Sugar Fonds: 2011-092.0113

Aware of Vancouver’s eagerness to support businesses not affiliated with fishing or forestry, Rogers requested that the refinery received a $40,000 grant, free water for 10 years, and tax exemptions for 15 years. The city conceded to his demands with the exception of the grant, which was negotiated down to $30,000 donation in the form of the refinery’s waterfront property.

3. Location, location, location!

Vancouver was believed to be an ideal location for a sugar refinery because of its proximity to the Philippines, the primary source of most of Canada’s sugar. The refinery also imported raw sugar from Australia, Asia and Central America.

4. The building is almost as old as the city

BC Sugar Refinery Co. Ltd.
B.C. Sugar Refinery, 1891. Vancouver Archives Item: 2011-092.2107

The B.C. Sugar Refinery was built just four years after Vancouver was incorporated. At the time, Rogers was only 24 years old.

5. It still produces (a lot) of sugar to this day

Rogers Sugar
Rogers Sugar Advertisement, ca. 1950. Vancouver Archives B.C. Sugar Fonds: 2011-092.0862

Between 100,000 and 120,000 metric tonnes per year! That’s approximately 10% of Canada’s sugar output.

 

 

 

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Adam Nanji is the Content Manager at Vancouver Is Awesome. When he’s not scouring the city for awesome news, he performs as ¼ of local band, Belle Game. Adam grew up in Vancouver and earned a degree in Cultural Studies with a double minor in Communication and Gender Studies from McGill University. He’s passionate about Vancouver’s social issues and local art. You’ll typically find him standing on a corner, contemplating where to eat next. Tell him what you think is awesome: adam@vancouverisawesome.com