In the spirit of Canada 150, we’re opening our photo archives and inviting the public to better understand the experiences of Vancouver’s early Chinese immigrants through the role of family associations. Located on the third floor of the historic Wong’s Association building at 123 East Pender, our photo archives date back to the 1920s and capture Chinatown’s vibrant history and our unique lens within the early Chinese-Canadian community.
Since 1912, the Wong’s Benevolent Association has provided social and economic support for early Chinese immigrants with the surname “Wong”. During the “Chinese Exclusion Act”, Chinese associations were an important source of fraternity and refuge from discrimination for thousands of Chinese men.
The photo archives date back to the early 1920s and document the Wong’s Benevolent Association’s significant presence in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The main building was originally built in 1910, and continues to serve as the Association’s headquarters.
If you’re more of an architecture-buff, come down to take a peak at our slice of history: the building was renovated during Chinatown’s prime in the early 1920s and reflects an eclectic blend of Western and Chinese architecture. Look out for decorative details – the “cheater floor”, recessed balconies, and long steep staircase – that are iconic to Chinatowns of Vancouver and Victoria. The Wong’s Benevolent Association building was granted heritage designation in 2003.
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