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Yosef Wosk buys Ridge bowling pin for $5,000

October 7, 2013
Demolition of the Ridge Shopping Centre begins -- artist's impression.

Spared from the wrecking ball!

A worker involved in the demolition of the Ridge Centre complex at 16th Avenue, and Arbutus Street, told me, for a September 26 post, that someone had taken away the iconic bowling pin. I didn’t find out who had saved it from the wrecking ball until last night, when I was laying down a “bed” of newspaper pages for my wet bike, and trailer. According to this Vancouver Sun article, two well-to-do Vancouverites, Eric Cohen, and Yosef Wosk teamed up to preserve the landmark neighbourhood fixture which sat atop the North-East corner of the centre, advertising the 15-lane bowling alley, for 63 years.

The Ridge’s bowling pin destined for Yosef Wosk’s backyard. Mr. Wosk may or may not be in the market for a giant bowling ball. — Photo: Ward Perrin for PNG

According to John Mackie, writing in The Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, September 25, the day before,on Tuesday morning, a crane from Pro-Tec Industrial Movers lifted the bowling pin off the roof, after workers had disengaged it from a three-foot base. It was loaded onto a flatbed truck for the trip to it’s new home, Yosef Wosk’s backyard.

Wosk is described as a philanthropist by the Sun, which he most definitely is. The way this Globe and Mail article from 2010 describes him, he’s also a bit of Renaissance man. Among other things, he’s a philanthropist, scholar, educator, rabbi, and successor to the Wosk furniture and real-estate dynasty. The Wosk buildings are famous for their distinctive blue tile. The backyard the bowling pin was headed for belongs to the Iowa House, a heritage mansion, built in 1913, in Shaughnessy. It was Wosk’s friend Eric Cohen who used his contacts to connect Wosk to the right people so he could buy the bowling pin for $5,000 CDN.

The Sun item provides some stats for the bowling pin: It’s four metres tall, and has the word “BOWL” in green neon around it’s waist. In the photo above, we can see see the top cap of the pin is missing. That’s probably made of sheet metal — it’s perforated with little holes at it’s base — I always assumed for drainage. The rest of the pin is described as being “fashioned from plaster or a type of spray-on concrete.” It weighs an estimated 900 kilograms!

What with buying it for $5,000, another $13,000 to move it, and some remaining expense for restoration, Yosef Wosk told the Sun he expected his new sculpture to cost him about $25,000 CDN. Then all he’ll have to do is “balance” it with all his other sculptures.

Cressey’s Arbutus Ridge development will include 49 condos, and 20,000 square feet of retail, and will incorporate the original neon, and bulb “Ridge” sign, but will not have a movie theatre, or a bowling alley.

My first post on the Ridge Centre redevelopment
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