October 16, 2014

Chinatown in the Seventies: The Images of Jim Wong-Chu – Centre A

A must-see for anyone interested in the recent history of this city:



Until October 18, 2014
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am-6 pm
229 East Georgia Street


Nearly 100 black-and-white photographs taken by Jim Wong-Chu during the years he attended Emily Carr, then known as the Vancouver School of Art..


JWC - 2


The photographs … include works from his Pender Street East series, various community photos and protest images from the drive to save BBQ Pork, the democratization of Chinese Benevolent Associations, and the Quebec-Columbia Connector Freeway protests.


JWC - 3
(I’ve rarely seen any images from this period – one of the most significant in our history, and not just because of the importance of the Freeway Fight but also for the emergence of the Chinese community as a political force.) Uniquely, this rare collection of photographs draws a portrait of Vancouver’s Chinatown in a moment in time when the community was resolute to not take discriminatory policies sitting down.

JWC - 1



Born in Hong Kong in 1949, Jim Wong-Chu came to Canada in 1953 settling in Vancouver in 1961. Witness to and participant in much of the Chinese Canadian activism in the 1970s and early 80s, Jim became one of its documenters.
This exhibition is an important addition to Centre A as it contributes to and gives a cultural-historical perspective on conversations about confronting and overcoming discrimination.


Also, coincidentally, Changing Vancouver is featuring a number of posts on Chinatown, comparing past and present, at a time of significant change in its physical development.


East Pender and Columbia Street (3)

Chinatown CV

We saw what this view looked like in 1929 in an earlier post. We looked in more detail at the building on the corner in another post. Remarkably few of the buildings further east (up the street) have changed very much since the earlier 1929 image, or since this 1978 image. The biggest change (in summer in particular) is the addition of street trees.

More here.

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