Vancouver began in Shanghai
Alley in the late 1880's, on the shores of False Creek at Pender
and Carrall Street. Today, Chinatown stands firmly established as
a strong ethnic community, a well-known tourist attraction, and
a prosperous commercial district.
Classical Chinese Garden
To discover Chinatown is to be suddenly engulfed with the tastes,
sounds and fragrances of another culture. Streets bustle with colour
and commerce, telephone booths are topped with pagoda tiles. Curious
foodstuffs spill onto the sidewalks and apothecaries sell ancient
and exotic remedies of dried lizard skin, thin-sliced deer antler,
and ground rhinoceros bone.
Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, the Sam
Kee Building is the narrowest building in the world - it's only
6 foot wide. In 1912, the city expropriated most of Chang Toy's
property to widen Pender Street. Leaving only a tiny strip of land,
Chang responded by erecting the narrow building. Below the sidewalk,
a basement 10 foot wide extended the full length of the building,
which was used as an underground bath house.
In 1911, Dr.
Sun Yat-Sen took refuge at the Chinese Freemasons' Building at 1
West Pender Street. Here, he organized headquarters for those who
helped him to depose the adolescent Emperor Pu-Yi. Nestled behind
high white walls in Vancouver's bustling Chinatown is the exquisite
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Completed in 1986
at a cost of 5.3 million Canadian dollars, with both craftsmen and
materials imported from China, the garden is a photographer's delight.
It seems almost monochromatic after the dazzle of Chinatown: all
contemplative muted greens and stony grays, with water walkways
leading from pavilion to pavilion among the gnarled trees and natural
rock sculptures that keep the city and the century at bay.
You will be enriched by the Garden's symbolism and enthralled with
the intricate carvings, the courtyards, the 'leak' windows, the
architecture of the Main Hall, Water Pavilion and Scholar's Study.
From covered winding corridors, ever-changing views unfold. Here
the essential and opposing elements of nature reveal the infinite
and subtle contrasts of Taoist yin and yang. Throughout the Garden
treasured Tai Hu limestone rocks blend with plants, trees and jade-green
Classical Chinese Garden
of Canada and the People's Republic of China collaborated to create
this wonderful Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) garden. Private sector enthusiasts,
local designers and consultants worked with 52 artisans from Suzhou,
the Garden City of China. To enhance your experience and refresh
your heart, take an interpretive tour with a Garden Docent. Learn
about the centuries-old methods and imported materials the Chinese
craftsmen used. Your visit may also coincide with cultural performances,
Tai Chi classes, the sighting of koi fish or 'Henry' the heron.
Step into the Gift Shop before leaving the Garden, select from unique
treasures to keep the memory alive.
4 columned China Gate and the Chinese Cultural Centre
is adjacent to Sun Yat-Sun Garden. Beautifully hand painted in traditional
colours, the gate entrance is one of the most photographed attractions
in Chinatown - the two chimeras, lion-like figures, are protective
The Wing Sang Building, constructed in the Victorian Italianate
style of 1889, is Chinatown's oldest building.
The Chinese Benevolent Association was established in 1906
to unify the community, settle internal disputes, and defend the
community against discrimination. The green-balconied building was
erected in 1909 and once housed a Chinese hospital on its ground
Other interesting spots to visit include the Lee Building,
which once concealed an opium factory, and the Kuomintang Building,
once the temporary headquarters for the Chinese Nationalist League.
Whether the sun is shining or the rain is falling, the Garden is a perfect place to visit year-round. Pleae call for hours of operation and tour schedules.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
578 Carrall Street
Main line: (604) 662 3207
Fax line: (604) 682 4008
courtesy of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden