Sawmills and Opera Houses: A Brief History of Block 14 and the Origins of Chinatown
By John Atkin
Exhibit: April 3 – May 26, 2016
Opening reception: April 2, 2016 | 1:00-3:00pm
Included with Garden admission
Free for Garden Members
There is a rich and complex layered history of significant cultural and historical activities on the site of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, which are the origins of Vancouver’s Chinatown. Learn about the past muddy shoreline of False Creek that sat at the edge of Carrall Street and became the home of the Royal City Planing Mill in 1886, providing employment for many Chinese men who then settled nearby in bunkhouses built out over the creek.
This early population attracted other residents and businesses and by the 1890s the population was large enough to see the construction of the Sing Kew Opera House which could seat 500 patrons. It became an early bridge between cultures in the city. Over the years train stations, playgrounds, bus depots, roads and gas stations have occupied this important slice of Chinatown.
“Sawmills and Opera Houses” features historic maps, texts and archival photographs to explore the significant history of this fascinating block where Chinatown began. The exhibit coincides with the celebration of the Garden’s 30th anniversary.