Since 1953, a “weather beacon” and clock have been broadcasting the time and temperature to Vancouverites passing by the Molson Brewery at the south end of the Burrard Bridge.No more.Late last week, crews took the Molson lights and logo off the tower on top of the brewery, and turned off the digital time and temperature.Molson (which is now called Molson Coors) sold the property at 1550 Burrard to Concord Pacific in 2016, and has been leasing it back while building a new brewery in Chilliwack.Molson Coors is supposed to be completely out of the building by July 31. The new brewery will be officially opened in Chilliwack on Sept. 17.The property is now for lease by CBRE, which declined to comment. The company had a giant “For Lease” sign on the Burrard side of the building last week, but it has been replaced by a smaller one.An online brochure said the 282,765-sq.-ft. property can be leased for five years, with a possible extension with a termination clause. The site includes two buildings that offer 166,670 sq. ft. of space, most of it warehousing with tall ceilings.“The largest available space this close to downtown,” the brochure boasts. “Make your mark in one of Vancouver’s most iconic locations.”
The Molson brewery building at 1550 Burrard Street in Vancouver on November 5, 2015. Mark van Manen /PNG
Mark van Manen /
There is no rental price given in the brochure. The land is currently zoned industrial, but Concord Pacific is likely to try to get the zoning changed.“The city is doing a city-wide review of the industrial uses in the city,” said Matt Meehan, a senior vice-president of development at Concord Pacific. “Basically, our site is not open for putting rezoning applications in until they finish that report. So in the interim, we’re looking at things like (renting it to) the tech industry, the film industry. There has been some interest in the building, which is kind of unique once you get inside. But we haven’t got anything signed up yet.”The media have been reporting Concord paid $185 million for the site, but a property search showed a numbered company controlled by Concord paid $164,830,149 on March 31, 2016.The site was once part of Kitsilano Indian Reserve No. 6, which went from Burrard and West First to False Creek. It is on the site of a longtime native village that was known as “Sen’ákw” by the Squamish First Nation and “sən’a?q” by the Musqueam.The reserve was sold to the province in 1913 for $225,000, but the sale was so controversial the federal government wouldn’t allow it to go through. The feds wound up buying the reserve land for $350,000 in 1928, but it was technically still a reserve until 1946, when the Squamish council “surrendered” it.Sick’s Capilano Brewery opened at 1550 Burrard on July 28, 1953 in “an ultra-modern $3.4 million plant.” The Sick’s Brewery in Seattle was famous for the giant red neon R, representing its Rainier beer brand. In Vancouver, the company erected a giant red and green neon 6, which was on the labels of Sick’s beers as a “symbol of quality and symbolic (of the) pronunciation” of the Sick’s name.
A Sick’s Capilano Brewery pamphlet showing how the original Big 6 “weather beacon” worked at 1550 Burrard. The site became a Molson plant in 1958. Courtesy of Jason Vanderhill.
A promotional pamphlet owned by local author and historian Jason Vanderhill says if the Big 6 was a steady green colour, the weather was clear, if it was flashing green it was cloudy. If the Big 6 was a steady red, it was foggy, if it was flashing red it was rainy, and if it alternated between green and red the weather was “unsteady.” The tower was also outfitted in red neon. If it was going up, so was the temperature. If it was going down, it was getting cooler.Sick’s Canadian operations became part of Molson’s in 1958 and the building became Molson’s Capilano Brewery.A new neon sign and clock was announced for the building in August, 1964. The sign was a small tower that had a clock/temperature gauge attached near the top. By 1977, though, it had been converted to a big blue rectangle with MOLSON on the long sides , the company logo on the ends, and a digital clock underneath.A shadow of the old lettering and logo is still visible on the tower. The sign was owned by Jim Pattison Sign Group, not Molson Coors, and had been altered over the years, so it wasn’t that old and it isn’t being saved.With the loss of the Molson clock the largest of the remaining public clocks in Vancouver are at the Sinclair Centre, Vancouver’s City Hall and the Vancouver Block.“The Vancouver Block is the biggest clock in the city, it’s a 22-foot diameter dial,” said Ray Saunders, who has repaired most of Vancouver’s public clocks.“But it needs restoration in a big way. I gave them a quote last year to overhaul the whole clock, which has never been done since it was built in 1909.“It would require scaffolding on all four sides, it’s a major job. I quoted around $50,000 to do that, and they decided in their wisdom not to spend that kind of money on it.”email@example.com
A Sick’s Old Style Pilsner Beer logo featuring the Big 6 “symbol of quality.” From the Galt Museum and Archives.
The 1964 version of the Molson clock atop the Molson Brewery at 1550 Burrard was a modification of the Big 6 tower that Sick’s Capilano Brewery erected in 1953. This photo is from 1972. Gord Croucher/Province
A closeup from a Tourist guide map of Vancouver City and Park, 1898, showing the location of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve. Note there is no Burrard Bridge (which wasn’t built until 1932), and that Burrard was called Cedar south of False Creek. Granville street south of False Creek was known as Centre Street, and Cambie was Bridge Street. The map was compiled by Garden, Herman and Burwell, Engineers and Surveyors, and published by Thomson stationary. Vancouver Archives AM1594-: MAP 35.
Herman and Burwell Engineers and /
Vancouver Province story on the Sick’s Capilano Brewery weather beacon on April 28, 1953.