Monday, August 15, 2011

Powell Street Panels

There is a collaborative project between the Powell Street Festival Society and the Japanese Canadian National Museum called Open Doors.

On Powell, Jackson and Alexander Streets there are a series of panels which were beautifully designed by Cindy Mochizuki that tell the stories of different buildings.

From 1922 - 1942 this was the site of the Nakamura Florist. I assume it was much smaller building at that time.

This is a photo of Sunrise Market with the Anglican Church in the background. I have written on Sunrise before but there are a few more things to say about 300 Powell Street. Like in 1920 it was home to Suzuki Fruit and Liquor; the Yamamoto Fruit Store in 1936 as well as Kawaski Confectioner also in 1936 before Sunrise took over in the 1960s.

And next door is 314 Powell Street which from 1931-1942 was the place for one of the area's most popular restaurants - Fuji Chop Suey. In the 1970s the address became part of Sunrise Market.

Ishkawa Store resided here in 1900; Nimi Skokai
from 1918 - 1942 and St. James Community Service began residing here in the 1960. The St. James Community Service is a valued part of the neighbourhood since it offers help for those who tend to be forgotten.

This location once housed the Sun Rooms from 1913 - 1941; S. Shibuya and Co. Clothing from 1919 - 1941 and the Aki Restaurant from 1963 to 1999.

Some notes here. Sono Nakazawa, owner of S. Shibuya and Co. Clothing, sold both men's and women's clothing to those from middle class backgrounds. She was also a valuable asset to those brides who arrived here from Japan. She would dress them in the Western manner and help guide them through the cultural changes of their newly adopted country.

The Aki Restaurant was one of the few businesses to return to post war Powell Street. Now this building is home to H.A.V.E. (Hope Action, Value, Ethics) Cafe which offers a sustainable, culinary program.

This building was built in 1922. In 1930  the Showa Club was here and this club, as well as its owner Etsuji Mori, have an interesting history. The Showa Club was an illegal gambling venue. A watchman would lounge around on the sidewalk outside and at the first sign that the police were coming he would press a warning button. Once that alarm was heard inside the tables would flip over and all the police would find were patrons socializing over tea and cake.

At the corner of Dunlevy and Powell Streets is the Tamara Building (1912) aka World Hotel (1914-1941) aka the New Canadian 1038-1942. This imposing structure was built in 1912 and was home to numerous businesses.

It was designed by architects Townsend and Townsend for Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese merchant who serves as Canada's first Commissioner of Trade to Japan.

The address of I have for the next set is 393 Powell Street. I couldn't see that exact address and since there were some illicit activities going on I didn't want to get to close. However I am assuming that the address is the above mentioned building since it is 390 Powell.

At 393 in 1906 we would have seen Ebata Japanese Goods and three years later the Canadian News would have been at that address. Jump ahead to the dirty thirties and now it is home to Maple/Victory Rooms and in 1941 Tsuruda Sewing was at 393 Powell Street.

If you have been reading my blog you may recognize this building as the Marr Hotel but that isn't what it was always known by. From 1893 to 1908 it was the Secord House Hotel and from 1909 to 1941 it was the Imperial Hotel. In 1932 Tai Iku Dojo was also here.

I have more photos and things to say inspired by these panels. As well, during the course of my research just now, I found another list to follow. So I will be writing on Japantown again soon.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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