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Story of Japanese Canadians in Vancouver told on this walking tour

See the city through a new lens.
The Powell Street corridor in Vancouver was once home to 8,000 Japanese Canadians and over 400 Japanese-owned businesses and was given the name Paueru-gai from the 1890s until 1942 when the Canadian government forcibly displaced the entire community.The Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall (VJLS-JH) is hosting walking tours of the Historic Powell Street area this summer to explore the abundance of remaining history and architecture that tells the story of the Japanese community that thrived in the area.

The tours last between an hour and 90 minutes and are done in groups of four to eight people, visiting 20 historic locations along Alexander Street, Gore Avenue, Powell Street, and Princess Avenue.

The stops include former sites of Japanese Canadian-owned businesses such as Maikawa Nippon Auto Supply on the southwest corner of Alexander and Gore. The building, next door to Burrard Iron Works, is newly renovated but some of the original elements can still be seen. Nippon Auto Supply was run by Sadakichi Maikawa who was one of five brothers that owned other businesses in the neighbourhood like the Maikawa Fuji Chopsuey restaurant and the Maikawa Fish Store.Sadakichi turned what started as a transportation business in 1913 using automobiles instead of horses into the largest garage and storage for automobiles at the time. It was given the name Nippon Auto Supply in 1926.The tour also stops at the Aoki Rooms, a tenement building built by early Japanese settlers in Vancouver. Labourers newly arrived in Vancouver seeking employment, would visit the owner Yonekichi Aoki for lodging and information on forestry logging contractors.Yonekichi started logging in 1895 before working at the Hastings Sawmill on Burrard Inlet. He eventually progressed to being a Canadian Pacific Railway contractor and the Aoki Rooms acted as a hub for those with questions about the employment office, ticket handling, and consular procedures. Yonekichi’s son George Tameo Aoki was also well known in the community as a player on the Asahi baseball team which is also highlighted on the tour.
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Historic Powell Street walking tours

When: Every Thursday and Saturday starting June 11, 2022

Where: Starts at Vancouver Japanese Language School - Japanese Hall (VJLS-JH), 487 Alexander Street.

CostAdmission is $10 per person.

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