Slocan Mercantile General Store
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Slocan Mercantile General Store is a two-storey brick building located on the north bank of Carpenter Creek at the upper end of the remote historic townsite of Sandon. Sandon is a former mining town located in the high narrow Carpenter Valley in the Selkirk Mountain Range above and east of the lakeside towns of New Denver and Silverton in the Slocan Valley, British Columbia.
The Slocan Mercantile General Store is valued as a rare commercial building dating from the time of the rebuilding of Sandon town centre following the 1900 fire that destroyed most of the town, including Reco Street (the original Main Street). The General Store features the original brick material and detailing typical of a commercial building of stature in its era including its simple corniced and ornamented front façade, and its un-ornamented back and side façades.
The existence of such a substantial building in this remote location of BC reflects the riches that accrued from mining silver and the corresponding settlement of the West Kootenay region. The building is an important reminder that Sandon was once considered the Monte Carlo of North America.
Together with other buildings that also front onto the original Main Street, the Slocan Mercantile General Store is valued as a tangible reminder of the early layout and infrastructure of Sandon, and the grandeur of the town during its heyday. Still in its original location, the General Store is important for its role in illustrating the function of Sandon's Main Street right-of-way, with its unique Carpenter Creek flume, the timber structure built in the same era as the General Store that guided the creek beneath Main Street and through the town.
As a remnant of the Sandon rebuilding effort that began in 1900, the General Store has historical value as a tangible link to the economic history of the Slocan region's booming silver mining industry in the late-19th and early-20th century, an economy robust enough to enable the rebuilding of the town centre in a matter of a few years, including innovations such as sophisticated hydroelectric power generation plants and the Carpenter Creek flume.
The building is important for its history of physical adaptations that have allowed it to remain a valuable social and cultural asset for the community, such as its use as a museum. It is also particularly valued for its historical role as accommodation for Japanese Canadians removed from the Pacific Coast and interned here during the Second World War. This repurposing to residential use resulted in physical alterations to the building, such as the installation of new windows.
The Slocan Mercantile General Store has social and cultural value as one of the enduring and iconic structures remaining from Sandon's early years, as a centre for the preservation and display of artifacts from Sandon's history, and as the focus of Sandon's revitalization efforts in the 1980s. The General Store is also valued for being the home and symbol of the Sandon Historical Society, and a centre for much community volunteer activity over the last several decades.
Source: BC Heritage Branch, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Key character-defining elements of Slocan Mercantile General Store include:
- Location on historical Main Street of Sandon
- Physical association with and alignment to remnants of timber flume with front of building facing old flume alignment
- Load-bearing masonry (brick) exterior walls, with more finished faced brick on the front façade
- Stone foundation walls
- Stabilizing concrete upgrades to the foundation and basement
- Front façade composition, detailing and ornamentation, including: symmetrical front façade with centrally located front porch, moulded cornice, lightly ornamented parapet and upper wall panels of sawtooth pattern brickwork and storefront window and door openings with robust wood frames, trims and mouldings
- Roof sloping down from front to back
- Alterations to east façade brickwork completed in the 1940s to form new window openings to accommodate non-original residential uses of the building
- Interior finishing in period detail and use of compatible material where original material is missing
Province of British Columbia
Heritage Conservation Act, s.9, s.13(1)(a)
Provincial Heritage Site (Designated)
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
BC Heritage Branch, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Cross-Reference to Collection