Published On: Mon, Feb 24th, 2020

History of Vancouver Chinatown

Vancouver’s Chinatown is the Western Hemisphere’s second largest Chinatown in area (after San Francisco), and third largest in population (after San Francisco, and New York). Chinatown continues to hold much mystique, for much of the 20th century, Chinatown was often an ethnic enclave which the majority of white residents had excluded and ostracized. Much of the stories of Asian Canadian literature – Sky Lee, Wayson Choy, and Madeleine Thien, to name a few – use Chinatown as the backdrop for their stories.

Canton Alley

Created in 1904 as a Chinese style courtyard surrounded by two parallel rows of buildings running South from Pender Street, Canton Alley (along with Shanghai Alley) were the hub of nightlife, entertainment, shopping, political and cultural activities.

Modernize Tailors

The last remaining Chinese tailor in Chinatown, the Wong family has been in the hand-made suits and coats business since 1913. The patriarch of the Wong clan first enrolled as the apprentice of a British tailor and by 1913 he had established his own tailoring business. At the age of 78 the eldest, Bill Wong and his 76 year old brother Jack and two other tailors in their 70’s are still making this business a Vancouver landmark.

Sam Kee Building

History of Vancouver Chinatown

A standard-sized lot in 1903, the City widened Pender Street, expropriating all but 6 feet off the Pender Street side of the Sam Kee Company building. The company was originally a 30 feet lot owned by merchant Chang Toy and had at one time, dominated early trade in Chinatown with businesses on the top floors while a bath house served as a social haven during the early years of Chinatown. Instead of selling his building, Chang hired architects to restructure the existing space, which is considered the narrowest commercial building in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Carnegie Library

The library is Vancouver’s first public library, which opened at the corner of Main and Hastings, on the border between Chinatown and Japantown in the middle of the 20th century. Donated by Andrew Carnegie, the building had cost $50,000. Over the past century, the building has also housed the city’s museum, been briefly abandoned, and now serve as a community centre and library for the Downtown Eastside, which is considered one of North America’s most troubled neighbourhoods.

Strathcona Neighbourhood

This neighbourhood serves as the centrepiece of Chinatown, for although located on the outskirts of the ‘core’, the majority of residents had lived in Strathcona. In the 1960’s, Strathcona became the battleground between City officials and neighbourhood residents. Although the City had planned to build a highway through Strathcona, which would in essence extinguish what remained of Chinatown, through protest, rallies, and petition, the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) eventually saved Chinatown.

Foo’s Ho Ho

On the corner of Carrell and Pender Street resides one of North America’s oldest restaurants, and the only one existing that still serves Cantonese-styled Chinatown cuisine. Although the clientele is varied, there is still a regular group of customers who return to taste the authentic food that most resonates with Chinatown’s history. Each year, the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia hosts its Annual General Meeting dinner at Foo’s Ho Ho in honour of the tradition and history that it represents.

Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden

In memory of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the revolutionary who had helped overthrow Qing dynasty China and had visited Vancouver several times prior to his death in 1925, the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the only full-sized classical Chinese garden outside China that is located in the heart of Chinatown. A five million dollar “architectural space” shaped by artisans brought to Vancouver from China, the garden is constructed in an authentic Ming Dynasty-style and is famous for being the first of its type built since the late fifteenth century.

About the Author

- I am an internet marketing expert with an experience of 8 years.My hobbies are SEO,Content services and reading ebooks.I am founder of SRJ News,Tech Preview and Daily Posts.

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