Sunday, 17 March 2013

Gabriola Mansion Craves Sweeter Outlook

GABRIOLA MANSION in Vancouver is a solidly built work of art that was once home to founder of BC Sugar Benjamin Rogers. I was compelled to stop and give this faded beauty a second look when I went by there recently.

The building designed by Samuel Maclure was constructed in 1900. Its sandstone exterior was quarried on Gabriola Island in BC. The Rogers family moved to a newer prestigious area of the city and the mansion was sold when Rogers died in 1918. The roomy building became known as Angus Apartments for a time taking on the maiden name of Rogers' wife.

Nowadays the abandoned mansion stands forlorn on Davie Street in the West End of Vancouver in need of repair. Windows are boarded up and there are disturbing signs of graffiti on some outer walls.

The residence reflects Victorian and Edwardian styles of architecture.

It is rumored that there was once a rum-running tunnel in the house to a so-called entertainment establishment across the street that has since been torn down. The building has had several transformations.

Since the 70s it has been the site of various restaurants. A local told me the home was also a popular spot for movie makers over the years and most recently the building was being considered as a bed and breakfast.

Busy pedestrians, cars and buses go by without giving a moment's notice to the intricacies chiseled into the stone.

According to a touring company, there could even be a ghost in the house. It seems that despite wealth and privilege life was not always rosy. Although I hesitate to say it here because I could not find independent corroboration, they say a son of Rogers’ committed suicide by jumping from an upper story window. Rogers had seven children and, if true, that son would have been one of four brothers.

Structures belonging to the mansion no longer occupy the entire block and the lone house is surrounded by a steady flow of traffic, modern buildings and fast food restaurants.

This monument to the lifestyles of the industrious and powerful is an infant compared to ancient structures around the globe. But in my relatively young world the mansion was designated a heritage site so, thankfully, will not be demolished as other historic buildings have been in Vancouver. I was also glad to see security measures on site to protect against vandalism.

I was both charmed and puzzled by the state of the house as well as by a face hidden by a muddle of twigs. Do I see horns growing out of that head?

Next time I spoon Rogers Sugar into my tea I will give special thought to the character home and hope that it soon gets the care and attention, and perhaps the warmth of family and visitors, it so richly deserves.

To explore sights from around the globe, link to Our World at the sidebar.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

See more BC scenes at Penelope Puddlisms: BC Life Is A Whale Of A Ride.


  1. I have been inside a few times when it was different restaurants. I used to live two blocks up the street from the mansion. Yes, I saw movie stars many a times when there was filming going on. It is or was a beautiful inside the mansion. Sorry to see it is being abused with graffiti and showing abandonment. I hope they can revive it again . Thanks for reminding me of my memories of this grand mansion.

  2. Cool looking mansion, love the windows and the carvings. I can see why the mansion would be used in the movies too. Great post and photos!

  3. Beautiful old house and I do think that it's so sad that they are allowed to just fall apart after so many years! So much is lost! Yes, a great post and photos indeed!! Have a wonderful week!

  4. I'm glad it will be preserved. It would be such a shame to have something modern replace it. I like the details, so different from what is mass produced today.

  5. Beautiful architecture!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great day.


  6. Great that they keep the house among all the modern buildings. They do have atmosphere and great to discover all the details like the faces and the glas stained windows. If you are aware of your environment you discover all little treasures. That's why I like blogging.

  7. That house should be a historical site. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  8. Looks like a fun place to visit!

  9. I feel it is important to protect our heritage. This looks like a wonderful building that needs some care and money to bring it back to its former glory. Let's hope that will happen soon.

  10. I have been fascinated by Gabriola mansion for some time, Penelope, and this post added a lot to the information I had found. I walk by there quite often with Black Jack and always stop to take a look. Your gorgeous photographs brought out many wonderful details that I had missed but I did notice and enjoy the beautiful camellias (?) recently. I hadn't heard the unfortunate story about the suicide. That will stay in my mind, as will the one about a young girl that I learned about yesterday when Bill and I discovered a memorial at Wreck Beach. There is a rumour about a ghost there as well. Once more, our paths seem to be converging :)

  11. What a beautiful mansion! I love the antique architecture – all the artistic details are impressive. But the things I was surprised the most is the human faces carved into stones. The first one looks melancholic with weary eyes and the second (with growing horns :-)) looks as if starting to speak right away after having witnessed something.

  12. I used to walked by there when I was younger like 6-8 years ago even 2 years was the last time I saw it. I thought it was just opening a different business but did not know it's haunted now and graffiti all over the building. And destroyed it. Was a wonderful fancy place once upon a time. Oh well.... We will see what happens in the future look like a east side Hastings no more west end building.


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