The History of Aggregate
Aggregates have been around since before humans walked the earth, formed in the fires of volcanoes and moulded by erosion, time, water and glaciers. The first type of concrete, a mixture of gypsum and lime, was used in ancient Egypt during the building of the pyramids as a mortar between the stones. It was in Roman times that concrete really became a construction material of choice. They had a recipe that used volcanic ash, lime and salt water that produced an incredibly strong building material. Unfortunately, the curing time of the Roman concrete was significantly longer than today’s concrete. The Romans were excellent engineers and used rock and concrete in almost everything they built, from aqueducts and bridges to roads and buildings that are still standing today. In almost every country in the world you can find ancient structures that used some form of aggregate.
Aggregate in BC
In BC, the use of aggregate dates all the way back to the first Vancouver. The primary building material for the city was wood, but after the great Vancouver fire of 1886, new commercial structures were built from brick and stone to withstand fire. This was the start of a strong construction industry in the Lower Mainland, and aggregates became the primary building commodity.
Local sites were developed to supply the rapidly growing Lower Mainland with aggregate and cement manufacturing products. The readily available materials meant that infrastructure could be constructed rapidly and economically. As the industrial and manufacturing hubs spread out further into other areas of the province, the demand for aggregate building materials increased, triggering exploration for new supply areas and other minerals.
The two oldest commercial buildings in Vancouver were built after the fire of 1886: the Ferguson Block at No. 2 Powell Street and the Byrne Building, located across the street at Water and Carrall, the site of Gassy Jack’s original saloon.
Aggregate – A Long Lasting Material
Today, we are able to create and build towering structures with steel and concrete that were unimaginable 100 years ago using aggregate as a key part of construction. Advancements in metallurgy and concrete formulations have advanced our ability to build complex, lasting structures. Quality aggregates are the foundation of modern and historical building and architectural accomplishments.