C.C. Snowdon Building, 2010 11 Street SE, a diamond in the rough
Judith Umbach Collection
Sometimes we in the heritage community get to hear about something not being torn down. These are the stories that make our day. I read a tweet the other day about just one such success story. Heritage Property Corporation, a development company noted (and appreciated) for its restoration and adaptation of historic buildings, has undertaken a massive project in Ramsay. They are restoring and redeveloping the Snowdon building on 11th Street SE. It was particularly heartening because this was exactly the kind of building that could have been razed with no one complaining. It is an industrial site, once the home of C.C. Snowdon Company, a wholesaler, refiner and importer of oil and gas products. The building is, quite frankly, an “ugly duckling.” But the developer saw the value and the potential in this building and is in the process of turning it into a red-brick beauty.
C.C. Snowdon (Campbell Camillus – don’t you love that name?) was born on May 16, 1881 in Montreal, the son of Cornelius Camillus Snowdon and Maria Peck. He graduated from Westmount school and worked for Imperial Oil before coming out to the west with the Canadian Oil Company. He formed his own company, C.C. Snowdon Co. in 1907. The first building on the site in Ramsay was a simple wooden shack. Around 1911 he built a red brick building, complete with an arched doorway. It was quite elegant for an industrial building. Over the next three years, more building was done on the site. His venture was very successful and eventually the company expanded into Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton. C.C. Snowdon was an important part of the fabric of the Ramsay area, providing employment for many.
At the time of his death he was living in Mount Royal on Durham Avenue. He was a member of the Glencoe club and was very active in the community. According to the article in the Calgary Herald that was written following his death in 1935, he gave extensively to charity, but preferred his donations remained anonymous. His family continued to run the company after his death until 1960, when the shares were sold and the company was developed into Turbo Resources. The Ramsay warehouse was in operation until 1983. In 1988 a fire destroyed part of the building and it was left unrepaired until the current developer purchased the site in 2008. As part of the redevelopment, a two story addition will be built in the area that was damaged by the fire.
I love to hear stories about buildings that are saved from the brink by the foresight and inventiveness of dedicated people. Especially when they are ugly ducklings.