Vancouver Heritage Foundation Weekly: Chinatown as a National Historic Site


Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture.
Chinese vendors in horse-drawn wagons, 1904. Pender Street (formerly Dupont Street), Vancouver, B.C. Philip Timms. VPL #6729 Detail from VPL Historical Photograph 78362

While the image of Chinatown in 1904 pictured above is practically unrecognizable today, its historic, social and economic value is indisputable in our city’s beginnings. On October 13, 2011, the Federal Government announced that Vancouver’s Chinatown would become a National Historic Site at a press conference in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The Classical Garden was also #4 in our Places That Matter plaque presentations earlier this year!

So, what does this national designation mean for the future of Chinatown? The impact of a historical designation on the buildings and businesses is yet to be seen. But, revitalization of the area, which for decades has been economically challenged, is happening now with new businesses, restaurants, and art collectives opening up alongside longstanding favourites. Development and new construction can also be seen in the new Onni V6A building, the Keefer Suites (Vancouver Gas Company bldg), the restoration of the Wing Sang Building and the soon to be “The Flats on Georgia”.

If you want to learn more about the historic designation side of things, join us at VHF’s first Evening Lecture of 2013 at Hycroft (former McRae mansion in Shaughnessy) February 19th “Chinatown as a National Historic Site”Historian John Atkin and Planner Jeannette Hlavach will talk about Chinatown, and the process and significance of becoming a National Historic landmark. Sign up here.

View more early images from the VPL Collection here.

Read here for: Historic Places (national designation) &  City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Revitalization Plan.


Postcard, photographer Rolly Ford. C.1950s