I attended a fascinating ProD day talk hosted by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation on Friday which featured a virtual walking tour of Strathcona led by Carmel Tanaka who runs Cross Cultural Walking Tours. The tour underlined how very diverse this neighbourhood was right from the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are a number of cultural groups that have held walking tours in the past here, and many of the paths overlap and intersect. There’s Jewish, Italian, Japanese, Black, and of course Chinese history here. Immigrants of Russian, Serbian, Scandinavian and other European descents also lived in this neighbourhood (e.g. evidenced by various churches and the Russian Hall.)
Then today, I went on a Black Strathcona tour organized through the Museum of Anthropology by the African Descent Society of BC to commemorate Black History Month. We heard about the thriving businesses in Vancouver’s Black community, Black women community leaders, early Black community members in the late 1800s-1920s , and the destruction of Hogan’s Alley by the Georgia Viaduct. We also passed by many historic sites such as Nora Hendrix’s home and Fountain Chapel. I’d of course read and written about some of this history before, but seeing the sites made the history come alive.
I was fascinated and wanted to learn more, so watched all ten of the superb short videos on the Black Strathcona website that are mentioned on the various plaques at sites on the walking tour. To my great delight, two of the sites (videos #1 about Vie’s chicken house and #5 about Jimi Hendrix spending formative summers at his grandma Nora’s home) are presented via spoken word! They are excellent examples of how historical material can be transformed via the vibrancy and imagery of poetry!