Chinatown To Commercial Drive
i. Today’s day trip starts in Vancouver’s Chinatown, formally labelled as such in the 1890s. One of the largest Chinatowns in North America, this is a rich downtown world which is currently the focus of revitalization efforts from the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation. Their vision?
‘The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation is dedicated to building a more resilient and inclusive community by promoting the wellbeing of those in need while preserving Chinatown’s irreplaceable cultural heritage. Our ongoing projects focus on creating a lasting positive impact such as affordable housing, seniors housing, and cultural and economic development’.
Chinatown is a wonderful place to just wander and explore, from side-street murals to small stores, bakeries, and restaurants.
ii. One must-see in Chinatown is the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which has been crowned #1 on National Geographic’s City Gardens list.
Opened in 1986, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden was designed to look like the private Ming Dynasty gardens of the city of Suzhou. The design team included Joe Wai – a Vancouver architect, landscape architect, Don Vaughan, and 53 experts from Suzhou to create this Classical Scholar’s Garden. To ensure its authenticity, the team used ancient tools and techniques, and tiles, woodwork, windows, rocks and pebbles from China.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is also home to different art exhibits, special events, and learning initiatives.
iii. Check out the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, which has been designed to celebrate ‘Chinatown’s contributions to the development of Vancouver and highlights the roles of Chinese Canadians in the building of Canada as a nation’.
iv. Stay tuned for the newly announced Chinese Canadian Museum, which will open up in the Wing Sang Building, former home to the Rennie Museum.
v. Now, it’s time to drive or take the Sky Train to Commercial Drive. The Drive extends 22 blocks, with 8 blocks comprising ‘Little Italy’. Along Commercial, you’ll find vibrant street murals, incredible bakeries, restaurants, galleries, bars. In 2020, Lonely Planet chose Commercial Drive – the only Canadian nominee – as one of the ‘world’s coolest neighbourhoods’.
Header Photo: City of Vancouver Archives. View of East Pender Street. Vancouver Planning Department. ~1960-80
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden photos: Elizabeth Newton