ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Vancouver: Remembering W. T. Whiteway, Designer of the Sun Tower, Fighting Racist B.C. Architects & Philistines

Updated on January 30, 2020
Provincial flag of British Columbia
Provincial flag of British Columbia | Source
View up West Pender Street, including the Entrance to Chinatown and the Sun Tower. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20161029212757/http://www.panoramio.com/photo/99461073
View up West Pender Street, including the Entrance to Chinatown and the Sun Tower. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20161029212757/http://www.panoramio.com/photo/99461073 | Source

Soaring heights, racists, Orangemen and incorrect caryatids

The architect W. T. Whiteway (1856-1940)(1) was well known as a designer of Vancouver buildings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of his best remembered architectural creations is the building usually known as the Sun Tower, dating from 1911/12 (2). (Originally the building was known as the World Tower, but because it was later occupied by the Vancouver Sun — and, later, still, vacated by it — the structure has been known by generations of British Columbians as the Sun Tower.) The building was commissioned by local newspaper proprietor Louis D. Taylor (1857-1946), who also later served as Mayor of Vancouver.

The Sun Tower rises to 17 storeys at 82 metres and on completion it was reputed to be the tallest building in the British Empire.

It is a brick-, tile- and terracotta-clad steel structure, with a dome and hexagonal cupola in Beaux-Arts style. Architect Whiteway collaborated with sculptor Charles Marega (1871-1939)(3) who designed a series of 9 caryatids at the cornice.

Perhaps surprisingly to some readers, Architect Whiteway was in his day at times regarded as controversial. One noted reason for being allegedly controversial was because, while in accordance with prevailing local opinion British Columbian architects were mainly racist and tried as a matter of warped 'principle' to exclude Chinese architects from working in the Province, Architect Whiteway was — in ghastly, supposed shock-horror — perfectly willing to work with Chinese professional peers in the course of his architectural work.

Around the turn of the century, W. T. Whiteway was noted as having indeed collaborated with architect W H Chow, who was being cold-shouldered by fellow architects in British Columbia because he was of the "wrong" race (4).

Ironically, the Sun Tower stands near to what is now Chinatown, in Vancouver (see photo, above).

Another reason why Architect Whiteway and, indeed, sculptor Merega, who worked with him on the Sun Tower (or, then, technically, World Building) project, were regarded as controversial, was nothing to do with the bigotry of racist critics.

The controversy went as follows: As part of the Sun Tower design, the cornice — referred to already, above — incorporated a series of 9 caryatids. Being inanimate and dozens of metres above ground level, the style of attire of the 9 caryatids sculpted by Charles Marega was yet challenged by critics, who claimed that it showed too much skin (5).

One is left with a sense of the curious flavour of the times in which Architect Whiteway and sculptor Marega lived, namely:

the approval of the Orange Order for W. T. Whiteway's Orange Hall — see also (1), below —;

mock or real (...I am not sure which...) horror by professional architect colleagues at his willingness to work with an ethnic Chinese architect;

mock or real (...again, I am not sure which...) horror at the attire of 9 sculpted caryatids many storeys above the ground level of the Sun Tower.

The flavour is truly unique; welcome to early 20th century British Columbia...

The Sun Tower is located at 128 West Pender Street, Vancouver, British Columbia.

January 22, 2020

Notes

(1) Among Architect Whiteway's works are included various hotel buildings, Vancouver's Gore Avenue Orange Hall and the Chinese Times Building, and many others.

(2) See also: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=5971

(3) Sculptor Marenga also notably worked on the Lion's Gate Bridge, Vancouver, and on the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, Victoria.

(4) See also: https://buildingvancouver.wordpress.com/tag/w-t-whiteway/ This disagreeable episode occurred during an era when the Chinese Exclusion Act was later to put back community relations severely.

(5) In contrast, however, to the objections a century ago of some British Columbians to the carved ornamentation on the Sun Building, the presence in some urban districts of gargoyles and caryatids — similar ornamental carvings that are sometimes mistaken for one another — have been the subject of guided tours, for example in New York City. For example, the following link details the observable gargoyles and caryatids in New York City's Flatiron district: https://www.nycwalk.com/gargoyles_flatiron_district.html

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Top floors of the Sun Tower in Vancouver British Columbia.
Top floors of the Sun Tower in Vancouver British Columbia. | Source

Also worth seeing

Among the numerous, outstanding visitor attractions in Vancouver, a very few of these include: The Lookout, with excellent views of the city, the surrounding Rockies and Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge, Gastown; False Creek and Science World; the Vancouver Art Gallery; the 1914 Heritage Hall; the 1907 Dominion Building; the 1911 Sun Tower; the 1914 Waterfront Station; the 1919 Pacific Central Station; Granville Island; and many others.

Vancouver is also ideally situated for day trips to British Columbian mountain destinations such as Whistler (distance: 123.8 kilometres / 76.9 miles) and Peace Arch Park (Peace Arch Provincial Park in Canada and Peace Arch Historical State Park in the United States), shared between the Province of British Columbia at Surrey and the US State of Washington, at Blaine (distance: 48.9 kilometers / 30.4 miles).

............

How to get there

WestJet and Air Canada fly to Vancouver International Airport, Richmond (distance from Downtown Vancouver: 10.8 kilometres / 6.7 miles), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia
Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)