Monday, February 13, 2017

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: CHINATOWN

The very last stop on our great Alaskan and Canadian adventure was Vancouver's Chinatown. We have been in several other Chinatowns, including in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, and I've visited the Chinese Garden in Portland. It was interesting to note similarities and differences. The Vancouver Chinatown website notes that with 300,000 people, Vancouver has one of the largest Chinese populations in the world outside of China. However, the actual Chinatown--at least the touristy part--didn't feel as large as San Francisco's or New York's Chinatowns, which each have a population of about 100,000.  It felt more like the LA Chinatown, which has about 10,000 people. Maybe we just didn't explore enough, or maybe they just don't play up to tourists as much in Vancouver.

Every Chinatown we've been to has a grand entrance gate of some kind. There are two in Vancouver, the Chinatown Millennial Gate:

 . . . and the China Gate:

These dragon-decorated street lamps were added in 1979:

"The Monument of Canadian Chinese" is shaped like the Chinese character "zhong," which symbolizes Chinese, moderation, and harmony. The two figures standing on the base represent the local Chinese contributions to North America: a Chinese railroad worker and a Canadian Chinese World War II soldier:


The fun part of any Chinatown is the interesting things for sale in the shops and restaurants. The Chinese are particularly fond of dried mushrooms and sell many types I don't recognize and would have no idea how to use, but they are fascinating to look at:



We were especially interested in the Carnegie Public Library that sits in the middle of downtown Chinatown. It was built in 1903 with $50,000 donated by the Carnegie Foundation, and was for years the main public library for the city. In 1957 the library moved into a larger space in another location, and this building fell into disrepair. It was resurrected as a community center in the 1980s. It continues to house a branch of the Vancouver Public Library system, and also provides community services for what Wikipedia calls "one of the poorest [neighborhoods] in Canada."
Photo from here


I loved the interior--classic early 20th century. What a wonderful gift to the neighborhood:

The stained glass is a reminder of the building's library origin:


A nod to classical drama:

I'm guessing this indoor basketball court was not part of the original design:

And the bathroom signs must also be of recent vintage:

The Carnegie Community Center is open 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM, seven days a week and every day of the year. Membership costs $1 for locals.

We passed a few memorials like this World War II memorial:
The text at the top of the list below reads: "CHINESE CANADIAN VETERANS WORLD WAR II: This plaque is dedicated to all Canadians of Chinese descent who served with Canadian and Allied forces during World War II. Their endeavors and sacrifices enabled the Chinese in Canada to win their enfranchisement as Canadian citizens in 1947."

One of the spots no tourist should miss in Vancouver's Chinatown is the Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden--a true oasis.

Sun Yat Sen (1866-1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and is considered the Founding Father of the Republic of China. I could do a whole post on just him . . .

. . . but I'll focus instead on the beautiful garden named in his honor:





Peaceful and very artistic, it reminded me a lot of the Lan-Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon.

I was reminded that I was born in the Year of the Rat, while my husband was born in the Year of the Rooster. I think he got the better deal.
And that wraps up our day in Vancouver. The following morning, we hopped on a plane and before we knew it, we were back in hot, hot California, and the cold blue icebergs of Alaska were already fading into memory. 

Farewell, Alaska, Yukon, and Vancouver. We had a blast visiting you!

2 comments:

  1. Nice information on Chinatown. I'm also surprised at the numbers you mention. We've also visited Chinatown in Boston. Both the garden and the library are jewels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great community center and especially beautiful gardens.

    ReplyDelete

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