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New plaque commemorates Vancouver Chinatown’s significance in immigrant history

POSTMEDIA NEWS, May 13, 2017

A new plaque unveiled in Vancouver’s Chinatown Saturday commemorates the national historic significance of the Chinese neighbourhood and the role it played in welcoming immigrants who arrived in Canada. Nellie Yip Quong and Wong Foon Sien were also both recognized as key figures in Vancouver’s Chinese history. Saturday’s event featured a lion dance and other cultural performances, and a presentation by North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson. Read more…

Imogene Lim and Mayor Gregor Robertson help unveil a plaque honouring Nellie Yip Quong as a person of the national historic significance in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on May 13. GERRY KAHRMANN / PNG

Chinatown legend Bill Wong of Modernize Tailors dies at 95

John Mackie, April 19, 2017

Bill Wong obtained an engineering degree from the University of B.C. in 1948. But the institutional racism of the time meant no engineering firm would hire him. So he returned to his father’s tailor shop in Chinatown. Together with his brother Jack — another engineering grad denied the chance to practise — he kept Modernize Tailors going decades after other Chinatown tailors closed. Read more…

Bill Wong of Modernize Tailors in 2014. Wong died April 8 at age 95. MARK YUEN / VANCOUVER SUN

Chinatown seniors protest city plan

JOHN MACKIE, November 21, 2016

The City of Vancouver said about 80 people attended two open houses about an “economic revitalization update” on Chinatown on Oct. 22 and 25. But a group of Chinatown seniors say the open houses were so poorly advertised, many Chinatown residents didn’t know about them, and didn’t go. Moreover, those who did go said there were weren’t enough Cantonese or Mandarin signs or translators for non-English speakers. As a result, they couldn’t figure out what the architectural drawings the city posted on boards meant. Read more …

Mrs. Kong, Mrs. Luu, and Ms. Chan protest Vancouver’s policies toward Chinatown at a press conference Monday outside a new high-end grocery store at Main and Georgia. JOHN MACKIE / PNG

Searching for a lost piece of Vancouver’s Chinatown

JOHN MACKIE, January 31, 2017

When Salli Pateman decided to open a restaurant in Chinatown she wanted to do something that reflected the neighbourhood’s history. The Vancouver Archives had a 1936 photo of her building at 158 East Pender, showing staff from the Sai Woo Chop Suey restaurant watching a parade. So she named her restaurant Sai Woo. Read more…

Men on street in front of Sai Woo Chop Suey House at 158 East Pender Street, circa 1936. James Crookall/Vancouver Archives AM640-S1-: CVA 260-452. JAMES CROOKALL / PNG

Noted Vancouver architect Joe Wai is a dragon with deep sense of history

Jenny Lee, December 1, 2016

Some say architect Joe Wai’s political sensibilities must have been sparked when his grandparents’ Strathcona house was expropriated by the federal government in the late 1950s for urban renewal. Wai himself demurs. It wasn’t until his late 20s some 10 years later, Wai said, that he joined the Strathcona Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) to fight further expropriation for public housing and a freeway that would go right through Chinatown. But the connection is hard to ignore. Afterall, Wai would spend the next five decades championing quality social housing, building healthy communities and preserving Chinatown and Strathcona’s historic and neighbourhood characters. Read more …

Vancouver architect Joe Wai is receiving a lifetime achievement award for his work, which includes the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, where he is pictured Friday, November 18, 2016. JASON PAYNE / PNG

Chinatown foundation to chip money into planned Downtown Eastside social housing development

By MATT ROBINSON, October 6, 2016

The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation has pledged $30 million to help build affordable housing in the Downtown Eastside in a new partnership with the city and Vancouver Coastal Health. The proposed 250-unit housing project is slated for 58 W. Hastings St., where a tent city has stood since early July. Mayor Gregor Robertson promised to build a facility with 100 per cent social housing at the site after meeting with area residents and housing advocates in August. Read more…

Mukhtar Latif, pictured at City Hall in 2014, calls the Downtown Eastside project a
Mukhtar Latif, pictured at City Hall in 2014, calls the Downtown Eastside project a “really creative partnership.” MARK VAN MANEN / PNG

Vancouver Chinatown real estate bustle puts hundreds of historic photos, documents at risk

by JOANNE LEE-YOUNG, July 6, 2016

Tim Wong keeps the keys to a gate at the top of a staircase inside an old Vancouver Chinatown building. The 80-year-old also keeps many of its stories, some of them unwritten anywhere, going back over 100 years in city history. Read more …

Tim Wong at Wong’s Benevolent Association at 123A East Pender St. in Vancouver. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG
Tim Wong at Wong’s Benevolent Association at 123A East Pender St. in Vancouver. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

Historic May Wah Hotel in Vancouver’s Chinatown goes up for sale

by JOHN MACKIE, June 19, 2016

The May Wah Hotel is one of the biggest and most impressive buildings in Chinatown, a four-storey brick structure with “monumental” white pilaster columns on the exterior.
But it’s the interior that’s really special. The May Wah has long been a favourite residence for Chinese seniors, one of the last remnants of old Chinatown. The clatter of mah-jong tiles and the animated patter of the residents probably sounds the same as it did during Chinatown’s heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. It’s living heritage, as opposed to a photo. Read more …

The historic May Wah Hotel is up for sale in Chinatown. GERRY KAHRMANN / PNG

Pete McMartin: A ‘centre of gravity’ stuck in the past, is there really a need to save nostalgic Chinatown?

by PETE MCMARTIN, June 18, 2016

For a dispiriting exercise, read the reviews of Vancouver’s Chinatown on the travel website TripAdvisor.

“Not safe, not what you want to see.”

“This place sucked.”

“Sad part of town.”


And on and on. Of the 495 TripAdvisor reviews of Chinatown, the largest number of them — 115 — gave it the worst possible rating of “terrible.” Another 79 rated it “poor.” The weight of opinion seemed to say that, as a tourist destination, most found Chinatown a disappointment. Read more …

Grocery shopping in Vancouver’s Chinatown was once a major reason for going there, but as Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang says: ‘You can get Chinese groceries on every street corner. I don’t have to go back to Chinatown like in the old days.’ JENELLE SCHNEIDER / VANCOUVER SUN

Grandniece of last emperor of China showing paintings at Art! Vancouver

by KEVIN GRIFFIN, May 24, 2016

As a youngster growing up in China, Cecilia Aisin Gioro knew better than to talk about being related to the country’s last emperor. What stopped her was social pressure against acknowledging she was the grandniece of Puyi Aisin Gioro, or Henry Pu Yi, as he was called in the West. Read more …

Cecilia Aisin-Gioro, artist and director in her fine art gallery. She stands before the oil on canvas named ‘The Bride,’ depicting her lifting her red veil. KIM STALLKNECHT / PNG
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