Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Its main tourist attraction is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Classical Garden and Park.
Vancouver has a large history of Chinese immigration. Initially, Chinese immigrants came to Vancouver to work on roads and railroads. Already in 1874, main roads were being constructed with Chinese labor.
Immigration of Chinese was restricted and regulated since 1885, when an act imposed a $50 head tax on Chinese immigrants. The large Chinese population in Vancouver (350 out of 2000 at the turn of the nineteenth century) was often subject to racist attacks, the earliest large white mobs attacks were reported in 1887. In 1923 a new immigration act disallowed Chinese immigrants, and it would take another 44 years before they were able to immigrate to Canada on the same basis as other immigrants. The world expo in 1986 again attracted new Chinese immigrants, mainly from Hong Kong, leading to the nickname ‘Hongkouver’.
While most Vancouverites of Chinese origin now live in Richmond, Vancouver itself can still boast a large Chinatown district. It has an authentic oriental atmosphere, with many well-preserved buildings in oriental style. The whole district was declared a historic site in 1971 by the B.C. government, together with the neighboring Gastown.
Chinatown’s center is situated around the Chinese Cultural Center (CCC) in Pender street. This street can be considered the neighborhood’s main artery, so it’s no coincidence you’ll find the colorful Chinatown arch here. The entrance to the (rather bland) cultural center is also marked by a beautiful arch.
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden and Park
Behind the CCC is the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden. The $5.3 million garden opened in 1986 for the Vancouver World Expo and was the first full-scale classical garden ever built outside China. It was built by a team of 52 experts from the city of Suzhou, who used the ancient techniques of the originals.
The whole garden, named after the founder of the first Chinese Republic, took a full year to complete. It contains multiple buildings in oriental style and maintains a balance between vegetation, rocks and pools.