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A place called Gyproc

August 30, 2014

In 1926 the economy of the lower mainland received a major boost with the establishment of the British Columbia Gypsum Company’s manufacturing plant on the south shore of the Fraser River opposite New Westminster, at a railway point that would become known as “Gyproc.”

Gypsum Lime & Alabastine plant at Liverpool in 1936The British Columbia Gypsum Company was incorporated in 1913 to quarry gypsum at Falkland BC.  GM Dawson reported the presence of gypsum in that locality in his report to the Geological Survey of Canada in 1889. The mine was made viable in 1925 by the completion of the Kamloops – Vernon branch of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, which ran through Falkland.

However it was the establishment of the plant at Liverpool that was the key factor in the development of this industry, which is still going strong to this day.

google map location of gypsum plant  and gyproc railway pointGypsum from Falkland BC was freighted over the Canadian National Railway directly to Liverpool, where the company dock on Fraser River could accommodate ocean-going vessels.

The site was well-located, with the CN railway at its back door, a nearby connection with the Great Northern Railway to the U.S.A., and the Pacific Highway just a half-mile away.

The local facility, described as a “calcining plant,” was equipped to manufacture plaster of Paris, gypsum wall-board, wall-block and other gypsum products.

In 1928, in a major consolidation of the gypsum industry, BC Gypsum was acquired by the Canada Gypsum and Alabastine Company, also known as Gypsum Lime and Alabastine Canada.

The Liverpool plant came within the purview of the New Westminster Harbor Commissioners, who furnished the following description of the company’s shipping facilities.

 

“Gypsum, Lime & Alabastine, Canada, Limited Dock at Liverpool (South side Fraser River):

Length at face 240 feet.

Depth of water, 19 feet  at low water.

Trackage, push car track to face of dock and overhead track to bunkers. Trackage along side factory warehouse, in rear of dock, will accommodate 6 cars.

Handling facilities, 2 push cars, each 2-ton capacity; 12 trucks, each 1/2 ton capacity.”

 

1929 Gyproc brand wallboard  Canada Gypsum & AlabastineThe plaster board produced at the Liverpool plant was marketed under the brand name “Gyproc,” a name which has became synonymous with the product in Canada.

The location of the factory’s siding at Liverpool was given the place name of “Gyproc” by the Canadian National Railway.  It is classified by Geographic Names Canada as a “railway point.”

In 1936 the company processed 20,000 tons of raw gypsum into more than 3 million feet of gyproc.

Second only to the Timberland Lumber Company in the size of its payroll, by 1951 the company was employing 115 persons and was a major economic benefit to the district economy.

In 1958 Gypsum and Alabastine Canada was acquired by Dominion Tar & Chemical Co Ltd, which also owned the neighboring creosoting plant.

In addition to gypsum from Falkland, the plant received imports of gypsum, brought by ships up the Fraser River to the company dock. Finished product was sent out by rail or by freighter.

The description of the company docks during this period indicate an enlarged wharf which is just about equal to the combined dock face length of the creosoting plant dock (400 feet) and the gypsum company dock (200 feet).

 

SS Nordpol discharging gypsum rock at Gypsum Lime & Alabastine new wharf in 1956“DomTar Chemicals Ltd (formerly Gypsum Lime & Alabastine) Dock at Liverpool (south side of river).

Length at dock face, 610 feet. Depth of water, 27 feet at low water.

Plant and dock connected with covered 30-inch conveyor belt system for delivering crude gypsum rock from vessels in plant.

Approach and mail dock provides means for loading or unloading package merchandise from or to barges, over adjustable loading ramp at west end of main dock.”

 

In 1995 Domtar Inc sold its gypsum division to Georgia-Pacific Corporation, which company continues to operate the plant to this day.

It appears Georgia-Pacific has let lapse the name “Gyproc” and now markets its gypsum wallboard with the trade name “Toughrock.”  The plant, shown below, looks similar to the plant of 70 years ago. The company manufactures a large variety of products and the  website does not say what is made here,  only that 40 or more workers are employed.Georgia Pacific plant  - Gyproc

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