Chinese Times Building
1 East Pender Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Chinese Times Building at 1 East Pender Street is a two-storey brick building, comprising a row of retail stores with accommodation above, on the northeast corner of Pender and Carrall Streets - the gateway to Vancouver's historic Chinatown.
The heritage value of the Chinese Times Building lies in its important place in the history of the physical development of Chinatown, the role of leading businessman Yip Sang in its construction and his retention of leading designers for its construction and subsequent alteration, and finally, its enduring use by organizations and individuals who played important roles in Chinatown for many years.
Constructed in 1902, the heritage value of the building, within the context of the physical evolution of Chinatown, lies in the use of brick to construct the building, establishing a new trend and effectively changing the character of the streetscape in Chinatown, which had been predominately one of wooden structures. The heritage value of the building is also derived from its association with leading architect W.T. Whiteway, who designed it, and with W.H. Chow, who was responsible for later alterations. Both men contributed substantially to the architecture of Vancouver, with Chow playing a particularly important role in Chinatown. The choice of Whiteway, and his client, Yip Sang, of a style that was common to commercial buildings at this time adds to its heritage value by providing a good example of this type of building in Chinatown.
The heritage value of the building is also derived from its direct association with individuals, organizations, and uses that played important roles in the Chinese community. Constructed by Yip Sang, one of Chinatown's leading businessmen and a community leader, the building reflects his business success and his consolidation of this through real estate investment. The use of space within the building conforms to the representative pattern in Chinatown, with retail on the ground floor, and offices, meeting rooms and small residential rooms designed to accommodate 'married bachelors' on the upper floors. The representative character of this mixture of uses adds to the building's heritage value.
The heritage value is further enhanced by the significant role two of the building's later tenants played in the history of the Chinese community in Vancouver and in Canada more generally. The first of these is the Chee Kung Tong, also known as the Chinese Freemasons. This Tong dates its establishment as a fraternal order to the earliest immigration of Chinese to British Columbia during the Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858. It is therefore associated with the establishment of the Chinese community in British Columbia and in Canada. The second significant tenant was the newspaper, the Chinese Times, which had its offices here from the 1930s until c. 1990. The Freemasons owned the Chinese Times and both organizations were intensively involved in the politics of China. Intense involvement in Chinese politics was a characteristic of the overseas Chinese community for many years, with divisions within the community reflecting adherence to different political agendas. In addition to its political role, the Chinese Times also served as a vehicle for disseminating local news and raising funds for local endeavours. The histories of these organizations tell us a great deal about aspects of the history of the Chinese community, in particular the role of political and organizational life and the enduring connections to China. While the specifics are peculiar to Vancouver, the general pattern of engagement is common to overseas Chinese communities more generally.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of the Chinese Times Building include:
- Location on a prominent corner lot at the gateway to Chinatown
- A row of mixed commercial and residential units with architecturally homogeneous treatment
- Principal elevation to East Pender Street with secondary elevation to Carrall Street
- Deep decorative metal cornice with dentils, set against the skyline
- The brick corbelling and recessed panels that express the party wall locations
- Metal-clad bay windows at the second-storey level, resting on the storefront string course
- The slender 'cheater' storey (illegal mezzanine) above the ground floor
- The corner chamfer with a shop doorway
- Stairs on right-hand side, accessed directly from the street
- Building-wide glazed storefronts
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.593
1930/01/01 to 1990/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
- Building Social and Community Life
- Community Organizations
Function - Category and Type
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Group Residence
- Communications Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection