Exploring the neighbourhood.

I should really keep my small digital camera in my bag at all times to document some my summer time outings.

My latest adventures have consisted of me going on Heritage Walking Tours. I’m glad I have to have a friend that is interested in history to join me. My first walking tour occurred during the Mountain View Cemetery Open House. Unfortunately, the tour happened on a scorcher of a day and I had to leave half way or else I would have passed out from heat exhaustion. I can’t really report much on that walking tour. I left after visiting the graves of the people who died in the Princess Sophia Sinking. I’m disappointed that I missed out on the talk about the Chinese graves. However, before I left I had a nice conversation with a woman and she recommended I should go on the Chinatown Walking tour with our guide John Atkins. The Chinatown Walking tour was full so I booked tickets for Japantown.

I didn’t realize the rich history of the Japanese Canadian Community. Did you know “the Powell Street area has a unique historical tie with Japanese Canadians who were its majority ethic group from the 1890s until the Canadian government forcibly relocated the entire community in 1942.” The demise Japantown happened after the attack of Pearl Harbour in 1941. Racist sentiment came to the forefront and the community was relocated in 1942 to camps in West Kootenays and locations further East. “After the war there was no more community.”

There are architectural gems in Japantown. It’s an eclectic mix of building styles form a mix of Chinese and California influence, Spanish-Mission Revival, Edwardian-Commerical. My favourite building is the Makikawa Department Store (365 Powell Street > 1908 & 1936) “…a new Art Deco style store designed by T.L. Kerr, reflecting a prosperous and stylish community…The modern “Streamline” Maikawa department store, its name still visible across the facade, carried the latest fashions but operated in its new, expanded version for less than 5 years before it was confiscated by the government when the Japanese Canadian community was expelled from Vancouver.”

I took a picture of the map we received. If you’re wondering where the tour took me. However, I recommend taking a Heritage tour because there are side anecdotes that aren’t on the map. Plus our guide was quite knowledgeable that if you had any questions, he would probably be able to answer it. You can download a better copy of maps here.

My next tour will be the Hidden Secret Strathcona Tour.