BC Mills · History · Pacific Northwest · Vancouver

On the Junk Pile…

screenshot 2019-01-23 11.08.36In researching the construction chronology of the Hastings Mill Store, both original and post move, I’ve been reading numerous newspaper articles, all celebratory, about the saving of the building and its move by barge from Burrard Inlet to its current site at the foot of Alma Street.

Once installed on its new foundation the building was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor in 1931 and dedicated as a museum of BC history by the premier a year later. Despite all of the accolades, speeches and patting on the back for saving the store there was one Province article in April 1930 that stood out. The headline: JUNK PILE TO CLAIM PIONEERS’ EARLY LANDMARK. And the subhead, City Council Turns Thumbs Down Plan to Preserve Historic Building – Hastings Mill Store, Built in the Early Sixties, to Be Destroyed.

The article goes on to say “The cradle of Vancouver’s early history is about to go on the junk pile with other outworn utilities. The little clapboard building known as the Hastings Mill store, where pioneer logger, trapper and sailor foregathered, has become a few pieces of castoff lumber, judged unfit for preservation as a centre of historical interest.”

There was the usual statement that all heritage structures seem to be lumbered with about how it was  “declared that the structure is in poor condition, elements of seventy years having played havoc with its frame, so that piecemeal moving would be almost necessary to permit the building to be reassembled on another site.

And on the City side, the Finance Committee declined to assist and put the onus on a community group to figure it out.

Of course, the building was saved and moved to its present location (and in one piece as well) through the efforts of the Native Daughters of BC and a host of companies that donated materials and money to facilitate the move.

But it almost didn’t happen.

Check out the museum at: https://hastingsmillmuseum.ca

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