Vancouver Stories and Tips

Chinatown

Chinatown Photo, Vancouver, British Columbia

Chinatown is another section of town in Vancouver. This region was another site we saw on our tour with the Landsea Tour Company. It is considered the second largest Chinatown in West Coast North America (after Chinatown, San Francisco). It is in a good location since North of it is the famous Downtown Eastside and to the west of it is the Downtown Vancouver Central Business District. This is one of the many tourist attractions in Vancouver.

Chinatown's center is located around the Chinese Cultural Center (CCC) in Pender Street. The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden is behind the Chinese Cultural Center. In 1986, this $5.3 million garden opened for the Vancouver world expo. It is considered the first full-scale classical garden ever built outside of China. This Classical Chinese Park and Garden took 52 experts from the city of Suzhou to build it. They used ancient techniques of the originals. This garden is named after the founder of the first Chinese Republic. The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden took a year to build. This place possesses many multiple buildings that are done in an Oriental style. But yet it has a balance of vegetation, pools, and rocks.

Our guide told us that there are 300,000 Asians in Vancouver and 15% made up of Vancouver’s population. He proceeded to tell us that Vancouver became populated with the Chinese community because it built the railroad/railway. For every 1.6 kilometers of railway that was built, one Chinese person lost his life.

Chinatown like other Chinatowns is populated by many old-timers. And similar to other Chinatowns it has several restaurants, banks, markets and other shops catering to the locals.

As we drove passed the Sam Kee Building, our guide also told us about Sam Kee. Kee built the narrowest building in the world. It is only six feet wide. The floor space is about 52 inches wide. The story is Sam Kee wanted enough room to build a "new" building. But when the city decided not to make the street wider, it gave Kee a very small piece of land. The city thought he would use it for parking but instead out of anger he built his new building on this six foot wide strip of land. Now, I believe an insurance company has taken up residency here. This building is in The Guinness Book of Records.

Albion, the tour guide, also informed us about a Chinese lady we saw (she had a yellow smock on) who sat in front of a market. This lady was the only person who can sell fish on ice. No one else is allowed to do this. But since this is a Chinese tradition, she is allowed to.

I was impressed with this historical site. It not only has Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden but it has vendors who sell seafood, vegetables, fruits, trinkets, clothes, etc., here. It is a shopper’s paradise for whatever you want to purchase. In addition, our guide told us about the markets being open at night too. This is advantageous if you are sightseeing other areas of Vancouver during the day. As a result of these things, I highly recommend you to come here. Besides the grand shopping experience, you will learn a little about the Chinese culture too.

The easiest way to get to Chinatown from downtown is to go east on Pender Street to Carrall Street and find parking on the street. You can also park in the International Village Parkside at the corner of Pender and Abbott and walk east on Pender and into Chinatown.

Landsea Tours include this attraction in their city highlights tour of Vancouver. This tour is 3½ hours long. The tour current charges are the following in American money: $48 for adults, $45 for seniors, and $30 for children. Their phone number is 800/558-4955. Their website is tours@vancouvertours.com.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip