John Mackie

John Mackie is a writer with the Vancouver Sun newspaper in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He specializes in cultural and heritage issues. He lives near Japantown and drives his bike through the neighbourhood every day on the way to work.

Updated February 20104 

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Japantown: Vancouver’s Lost Neighbourhood - Part 2

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Few people realize it, but the city of Vancouver began in Japantown, not Gastown. 

The Hastings Mill was located on the waterfront at the foot of Dunlevy in 1865. Some of the workers lived in float houses, others built small shacks on Hastings Road, the original name of today’s Alexander Street. Gastown grew up around Gassy Jack Deighton’s saloon, which popped up in the late 1860s at today’s Carrall and Water.

In the 1880s, Alexander Street was a tony residential street. Hastings Mill manager Richard Alexander­—after whom the street is named—built a ...

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Japantown: Vancouver’s Lost Neighbourhood - Part 1

U. Morimoto & Co. dry goods rented a storefront at 328 Powell St. for only two years, in 1920 and 1921. But nine decades later, the company name is still written in the tile of the storefront, one of the last remnants of Vancouver’s historic Japantown.

The 8,000 to 10,000 Japanese-Canadians who lived in Japantown were moved to internment camps in the B.C. interior in 1942, and their properties were sold off a year later. Japanese-Canadians weren’t allowed to return to the west coast until 1949, and Japantown never recovered.

But if you look closely, you ...

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