Effort being made to preserve Canada’s 1st McDonald’s golden arches sign

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ABOVE: It’s been a beacon, calling out to grumbling stomachs for decades in Richmond. But with the McDonald’s on number three road due for an upgrade, there was a concern the iconic golden arches would fall. Kristen Robinson explains why some consider the sign heritage worthy and the deal that’s been made to save it – Dec 29, 2016

They’ve been calling out to hungry stomachs in Richmond for almost five decades.

The McDonald’s restaurant on No. 3 Road is home to the first golden arches planted outside of the United States.

“It’s something that we consider a landmark here in Richmond and it reminds us of yesteryear,” said Richmond city councillor and historian Bill McNulty.

In June 1967, businessman George Tidball brought the McDonald’s chain to Canada after buying Western Canada rights from the American corporation for a $50,000 down payment. Tidball got his inspiration while on a road trip to California, where he visited the McDonald’s headquarters.

“Well he came back here and brought in the first McDonald’s to Richmond and this was the first place of the 19 cent hamburger,” said McNulty.

The No. 3 Road location began as just a hamburger stand. Now, as it approaches its 50th anniversary, McDonald’s wants to demolish the original restaurant and build a new one with a double drive-through at the same location. There was concern the historic golden arches might fall but the city of Richmond is working with the restaurant chain to ensure the original sign is preserved for its heritage value.

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“Staff has been working with McDonald’s to retain the iconic ‘golden arches’ as an urban memory and commemoration of the long-standing presence of McDonald’s in the city centre. The applicant has agreed to the retention of the existing McDonald’s “golden arches” free standing sign rather than installing new signage. The sign will be refurbished and relocated slightly within the proposed landscape border along the sidewalk to open up clear sight lines to the new building,” states a report to the city of Richmond’s Development Permit Panel.

Customers at Canada’s first McDonald’s restaurant say they would hate to see the golden arches’ sign disappear. “It’s been around for so long I don’t know. I would miss it. It’s a heritage place here,” said one female customer.

“It’s really good to keep the sign it’s very meaningful,” added another customer.

“It’s iconic, it’s historic, it’s the first one in Canada. It’s almost a national treasure,” said McNulty.

McDonald’s is planning a 50th anniversary celebration in Richmond in the summer of 2017.