Friday, May 30, 2014

Chang's Mark

Chang Toy and the Sam Kee Company left their mark on this city. Four of the buildings Chang had built still exist today.

The first one is on Pender Street and was completed early in the 1900s. The exact details of when are not known but there is a photo of the building from 1906. In about 1907, the building was bought by Chee Kung Tong, an organization for Chinese workers, which was established in Vancouver in 1892. The organization renamed itself the Chinese Freemasons in 1920. I have written on the Chinese Freemasons' building but I thought it was a different building. Or at least that's the information I had at the time.

The second building still standing is one on West Pender and Richards. Sam Kee acquired two twenty-five foot lots in 1904 and the apartment building, Empress Rooms, was built. Today it is the home of Macleod Books.

Another apartment building Sam Kee built is now an office building at 145-149 Keefer Street.

I don't have photos of either of those buildings.

That brings us to perhaps the most famous of the Sam Kee buildings. This one is on West Pender and is listed in Ripley's Believe It or Not as being the narrowest building in the world. It is only 6 feet wide. I wrote on this unique structure in an earlier entry.

Chang Toy came to Canada from China and had basically nothing. He worked hard and was smart and became, probably, the wealthiest man in Chinatown.

I want to thank the Building Vancouver blog for the information on Chang Toy and the Vancouver Public Library archives for the old photos.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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