A series of associated companies (A. Macdonald Company, H.H. Cooper Company, Macdonald-Cooper Ltd., and Macdonald's Consolidated Ltd.) operated this building on 105 Avenue in Central McDougall as a wholesale grocery warehouse, until it was vacated in 1965. This history can be seen in the layering of painted signage on this east facade. The building sat empty for decades until being converted to affordable housing in the late 1990's.
Hand-painted signs have more or less become a thing of the past, replaced by press-printed, illuminated signs, digital signboards, and the like. Designed on computers for stylistic perfection, modern-day commercial graphics are so ubiquitous that we barely notice them. But there was a time when businesses required, not computer-based design skills, but skills with a paintbrush to broadcast their services to passersby.
Remnants of this commercial history are all over the city, on the facades of old buildings downtown, on Whyte, and any other part of the city that was built before World War II. They are fading reminders of a time when many commercial products were made locally, and when every transaction was a personal one.
Love these, such a lost art.
I never noticed how the Birks sign is 3D…wacky. I recall reeing some archive photos of a giant milk bottle that sat atop a warehouse downtown for a long while. Old hand painted signs are certainly charming given their present scarcity, but I can’t help but think that they may have been perceived as more visual pollution in their day.
That said, I think that landmark advertisements play a big role in wayfinding…a big part of me wishes that the tacky milk jug at Edmonton City Dairy was still perched at jasper and 109 st http://www.epl.ca/Resources/Photos/Buildings/EA-314-01.gif