Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Vancouver Viaducts Removal Clears Way To Honour Hogan's Alley"

A new article in on the removal of the viaducts and possibilities for memorializing Vancouver's historical black community. Click image for link.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Secret Vancouver: Return to Hogan's Alley" (2016)

A short documentary about the impact of "urban renewal" on Vancouver's black community:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Remembering Hogan's Alley, hub of Vancouver's black community"

Interview on the CBC show Our Vancouver with Gloria Macarenko:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Circa 1948 by Stan Douglas

A new immersive digital installation by artist Stan Douglas called Circa 1948 will be open to the public in September at SFU Woodward's. Something like a computer game or a science fiction style holodeck, it is a large box in which projections of various settings -- including Hogan's Alley in 1948! -- appear on all four walls around you. Sensors track your body movements, and as you move, so do the images around you, which change accordingly and allow you to walk through this historical cityscape. In the Hogan's Alley setting, you can peer in doorways, enter buildings, go upstairs, walk through yards, and eavesdrop on characters' conversations. Book yourself a session for September 2015 at the SFU Woodward's website here.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Video by Ruby Smith Diaz from the Housing Matters Media Project

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gentrification and the black community: a slide show by Naomi Moyer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wayde Compton speaking at the Hogan's Alley Poetry Festival, 23 Sept. 2011

At Rhizome Cafe, 25 Feb. 2011

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hogan's Alley Residents speak, moderated by the late, great Denis Simpson

Here is an excerpt from an excellent 2009 panel discussion featuring three former residents of Hogan's Alley: Randy Clark, Chic Gibson, and Elwin Xie. It was moderated by Denis Simpson. Simpson died just a few days ago, and will be sorely mourned by so many, including those of us in the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project. He was deeply involved in the movement to maintain the legacy and memory of Hogan's Alley and beyond, and worked with the wonderful people from the Vancouver Moving Theatre to develop East End Blues, a performed history of the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Descendents of black BC pioneer John Freemont Smith in Vancouver and Kamloops

In Go Do Some Great Thing: The Black Pioneers of British Columbia, historian Crawford Kilian writes the following:

"Born in the Danish West Indies (now the Virgin Islands) in 1850, [John Freemont] Smith was a restless, multi-talented man whose career was much like that of Mifflin Gibbs. After some years in Victoria, he married 15-year-old Mary Anastasia Miller in 1877. The 1881 Victoria census lists him as a boot and shoe maker, living with his wife and three-year-old daughter Gertrude Florella. Mary had been born in Victoria but her 'origin' is given as Northwest Territories—which in those days included today's Prairie provinces. She was probably native or Métis.

"The family moved to Kamloops in 1884; Smith started a shoemaker's shop. In 1886 he moved to nearby Louis Creek, and later liked to boast wryly that he was 'the first white man on the North Thompson.' He served as an Indian agent and postmaster in Louis Creek, but also prospected all over the BC interior. He tried unsuccessfully to develop some mica deposits near Tete Jaune Cache, and was also involved in a coal-mining venture at Chu Chua.

"In 1898 Smith and his family (now numbering seven children) returned to Kamloops, where he set up a store and also worked as a mining and agriculture journalist. In 1902 he became secretary of the local Board of Trade; a year later he was elected alderman, a post he held for four years. In 1908 he was appointed City Assessor. He had also helped found the local Conservative Association. Smith's careers as prospector, businessman and Indian agent seem to have been notably untouched by prejudice. He was a popular community leader, respected for his energetic 'boosting' of Kamloops." (133-34)

Kilian then goes on to recount the one recorded incident of racism against Smith and his family, when a local militia officer refused to work with him. The officer stated in a letter that he "refused to recognise this appointment of a nigger to an Indian Agency," and that Smith's "colour, race and ... his negro-Siwash family are notorious"; he summed up his objections by adding that he believed "races subject to the whiteman are better governed by a whiteman." The federal government tried to intervene on Smith's side, but the project failed as a result of the conflict (134).

This morning, Ashok Mathur (the director of the Centre for Innovation in Culture and the Arts in Canada at Thompson Rivers University) and members of the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project met with Gregory Smith Allen, the grandson of John Freemont Smith, and Andrea Baines, Smith's great-granddaughter. Both descendants of the pioneer are from California, to which Smith's youngest daughter relocated in the early twentieth century. This is their first time visiting the adopted province of their ancestor, and we met with them in Vancouver (on Commercial Drive) the day before they are to carry on to Kamloops to see firsthand the city Smith helped to build. Mathur, who currently resides in the Freemont Block, a Kamloops heritage building bearing the pioneer's name, has been researching Smith's legacy in the city and the region.
John Freemont Smith

Gregory Smith Allen
Gregory Smith Allen and his niece Andrea Baines
Sheilagh Cahill, Ashok Mathur, and Gregory Smith Allen
Andrea Baines and Naomi Moyer

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

New Facebook Group

In the wake of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, during which the city of Vancouver experimentally shut down the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, there is now talk at the council level of permanently closing and demolishing the overpass. Unfortunately, there has been almost no discussion in these proto-plans of the history of the area -- that it was once the site of Hogan's Alley; that Hogan's Alley was once the location of a vibrant black community; and that a past city council put the overpass there as part of a scheme that ran roughshod over the residents themselves and their desires for improvement rather than destruction and displacement. Whatever plans are made for the site, it is imperative that this history be remembered in memorial form there.

To this end, a new Facebook group has been created -- "Include a Hogan's Alley Memorial at the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaduct Site!" If you are on Facebook, please consider joining this group. The current city council has shown that they will listen to people when they express concern about historical sites, as was proven when opposition to the proposed demolition of the Heatley Block in Strathcona succeeded.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Jimi Hendrix Shrine

On 20 July 2009, Vincent Fodera, owner of 207 Union Street, celebrated the conversion of the building into a shrine for the music legend Jimi Hendrix. The small building, now used as a common room for the Creekside Student Residence which faces onto Main Street, was once apparently associated with Vie's Chicken and Steak House, a famous restaurant owned by one of the key members of Vancouver's black community. Vie and her husband Robert ran this East End institution for three decades — it was Hogan's Alley's most prominent black-owned business. Recalling the presence of the Hendrix family in the old neighbourhood, Fodera opened the shrine up to the public for this special event.

Three short video interviews with Fodera by AHA Media can be found here: one, two and three. And there is an article from the Vancouver Courier here. (Both incorrectly spell his surname, which is "Fodera" rather than "Fedora.")

That's the owner, Vincent Fodera, second from the right in the blue and white shirt.

207 ½ Union Street

Back in the day, this structure was sometimes listed as "207 ½ Union Street" — part of the beautifully un-uniform way the old neighbourhood flourished before the advent of strict codes.

I'm pretty sure this guy won the look-alike contest.

Inside the Hendrix Shrine

A view of Vie's Chicken and Steak House from the top of the Cobalt Hotel, 1970s

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Decommissioning of 823 Jackson Avenue, Once the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel

On 26 October 2008, the Basel Hakka Lutheran Church at 823 Jackson Avenue in Vancouver was decommissioned. The church was originally built as a German Lutheran church in 1903, but was bought in 1918 by Vancouver's black community. It became a member of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination, and was called the Fountain Chapel, Vancouver's first black church. It remained in the black community until 1984, when it was bought by the Chinese Lutherans, who have flourished there since.

However, the Lutherans are now moving because their congregation has grown too large for the small building. The site has been important for both of our communities, and it was good to be able to celebrate its history together as it passed out of use as a church, on this last Sunday service, from which the following photographs are taken.

In this picture are HAMP members and supporters, as well as Vui Heong Chong of the Basel Hakka Lutherans, who kindly invited us to be a part of the event.

The decommissioning was also covered by Global National Television.

HAMP has been informed that the building will be converted into a private residence.
HAMP and supporters at the old Fountain Chapel one last time.

Tracey McDougall, the granddaughter of Vie Moore.

Moore owned and operated Vie's Chicken and Steak House at 209 Union Street (at Hogan's Alley) from 1948 to 1975 -- a key establishment in the black history of Vancouver. She was recently celebrated in a poster campaign for Women's History Month.

(The condo being built where Vie's once stood is currently stalled, due to the global financial crisis. The developer, the Onni Group, was the focus of a recent CTV News exposé.)

A group photo of the congregation of the Basel Hakka Lutheran Church as well as HAMP members and friends at the end of the church decommissioning.
Members of the Black Dot Collective, including Kevan Cameron, video-documenting the day.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Leonard Gibson: 1926 - 2008

Sadly, the local dance legend Len Gibson died recently. His role in the development of theatre and dance in Canada is well known, and his contributions were recognized when he was given the Harry Jerome Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000. Gibson's part in keeping the memory of Vancouver's black community included his performance in the Vancouver Moving Theatre's production of East End Blues in 2006. We in the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project offer our condolences to his family.

A detailed obituary appears here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

HAMP at Under the Volcano Festival August 12, 2007

In photo is HAMP member, Karina Vernon (centre-with mic) Kamala Todd (left) Grace Eiko Thomson from National Association of Japanese Canadians (right) and missing from the photo is Cease Wyss/T'Uy'Tanat from the Sko-Mish-Ul7h Nation.

The panel was called "Lost and Found: Intertwining the Lost Histories of the Downtown Eastside."

This much needed dialogue focussed on the lost and forgotten histories that both linger and disappear within the context of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. These women examined the ways communities in Vancouver deeply suffer from a collective, historical amnesia, in particular to Indigenous, Japanese and Black communitites that have existed in the city; they also discussed how this phenomenon enables developers and urban planners to continue regarding the land as 'empty' urban spaces in need of development.

During the workshop Grace, Karina and Cease Wyss focussed on the need to remember the minority communites that have been disappeared; especially the repressed indigenous histories on this colonised land.

The audience was unbelievably present and fully engaged depsite the ambient music from the main stage!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Guerrilla art and public memory

The civic powers write -- sometimes in floral text -- messages welcoming you into the municipality. But what about the unofficial spaces? Those that were not named by the city, but named themselves? The municipalities within municipalities? The lost 'hoods? The ghost ways?

This July, if you're in the vicinity of the green space near the Georgia Viaduct, at 200-block Union Street -- the old site of Hogan's Alley -- check out Lauren Marsden's installation, lovingly planted with support from HAMP and friends.
Lauren Marsden, fourth from the right.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"Hogan's Alley Welcomes You"

Remembering Hogan's Alley and the Black Urban Landscape: 24 Feb. 2007

For Black History Month in February 2007, the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project, with the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, hosted an evening of speakers and music on black urbanism. David Hilliard, former Chief of Staff of the Black Panther Party, discussed the history of the movement in Oakland, California. Afua Cooper presented a historical and critical analysis of the demolition and memorialization of Africville, Nova Scotia. Ndidi Cascade and Deanna Teeple provided the beats and rhymes. HAMP members brought words and images charting, as always, Vancouver's own black history and community.

Photo (l to r): Wayde Compton, Naomi Moyer, Karina Vernon, Sheilagh Cahill, Ndidi Cascade, David Hilliard, Deanna Teeple, Afua Cooper and Junie Desil.

Karina and David

Karina Vernon and David Hilliard.

In the VECC auditorium and lobby

Book Table

Sheilagh Cahill running HAMP's book table.

Meegan and David

Meegan Maultsaid, who programmed the event from the Cultch end of things, with Hilliard.

On Lok

After party at On Lok on East Hastings. In the photo: Afua Cooper, David Hilliard and Naomi Moyer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 24th HAMP event at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre!

VECC Volume Music Series:
Remembering Hogan's Alley and the Black Urban Landscape
February 24th, 2007 The Hogan's Alley Memorial Project and Volume Music Series Co-present Black History Month Celebration: "Remembering Hogan's Alley and the Black Urban Landscape

The Hogan's Alley Memorial Project is a grassroots cultural organization, dedicated to memorializing Vancouver’s historic black neighborhood and the wider Vancouver black experience. This event will feature keynote speakers David Hilliard and Dr. Afua Cooper, who will focus on the topic of black urban sites in different North American contexts and will illustrate the commonalities of the experiences of black Canadians with the cultural legacy of the Black panther party and their agenda for empowering black communities in the US. The event will also be a means of raising the profile of Vancouver's black community while also linking this community to others.

This promises to be a fantastic evening. For tickets and more information
check out the VECC website.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Last week we found out that 227 Union Street, a beautiful, old house right across from the viaduct, had been slated for demolition. 227 was the last residential building left on the city block of Union and Gore. This block which is now empty space, with a few grocers and empty industrial buildings was once home to many houses and a few venues. Some memorable places used to grace this block like the Bingarra Hotel on the corner of Main and Union that was torn down due to the viaduct as well as Vie's Steak and Chicken house which was two houses down from 227 and no longer stands. Is 227 any less significant? It wasn't a hotel or a restaurant, but many families had occupied this house.

The photo below was taken courtesy of Elwin Xie who's Father ran a laundry on Union, just doors away from 227. The picture was taken in the mid 70's on the South-side of Union facing North West. You cannot see 227 from this angle because the house actually was set in from the street. It is where the little blue car is parked rigth in the middle. The picture is a bit blurry, but you can see that there were many residencies within this block.

James Johnstone, an East End based house genealogist who has been researching houses within the East End for the past 10 years stated, " That house (227) was over a hundred years old. It was built in 1900 by a New Brunswick-born carpenter, John Bruce Smith, on a lot on which a smaller cabin had stood from 1894." James then goes on to explain that many families occupied this ancient landmark, " By 1913, the house was rented out to Joseph Lacterman, a Russian-born Jewish tailor, and his English-born wife Bessie. The rest of the block was undergoing changes as well. Union and Main Street had become the nucleus of a growing Italian colony in Vancouver."

209, which is three houses to the left or west of 227 with the darker roof and the bigger blue car parked in front, is where Vie's Chicken and Steak house stood and James found that, " The house at 209 Union, built in 1891 and first occupied by New Brunswick-born dressmaker Mary Marion Myles and her trader husband Robert Johnson Myles, had been turned first into a boarding house, then into a restaurant by a man named Thomas A. Kelly. This same house would, by 1948, become the home of Robert and Viva Moore and as Vie’s Chicken and Steakhouse become a Vancouver icon." This icon operated for 27 years and it was still standing and open for business several years after the viaduct went up.

Given this context two HAMP members, Karina and myself decided to take some pictures of the bright, turquoise house before this last bit of evidence that there was a community here would be ripped out. Snapping pictures from behind a fence didn't satisfy us so I found a piece of wood which helped me boost myself over the fence.

As soon as I hit the ground on the other side of the fence the house welcomed me with it's open door.
Stepping on to the unique, sagging porch I imagined what it was used for. Who sat out here? Is this where mom rested or where the kids played? Was it where the dog slept or a rooster crowed? Each family was probably a very different experience for 227.

James states that this house was rented out to a black resident for 9 nine years, " from 1924 to 1933 Kansas-born Elijah “Lige” Holman became the first black person to live in the house. Elijah Holman and a Mamie Holman owned and lived next door at 221 Union from 1922 to 1924. Elijah Holman was born in Kansas on March 8, 1875 and came to Vancouver in 1911 where from 1932 to 1942 he worked as a laborer for the city of Vancouver. According to his death certificate he never married."
Indeed, the families in 227 represented a microcosm of the myraid of ethnicities who actually lived near and around Hogan's Alley.

In James Johnstone's article, 'When an Old House Falls' he mentions that at least seven solid families lived in 227 from 1900 to 1951. Being over 100 years old, it was still in fairly good shape and looked like it was well taken care of. When inside of the house, although most windows were broken and the door was open, it was warm. How long had it been abandoned for? It smelled of life and it smelled of dust. There were so many details to capture I didn't know where to begin or from what angle. Sunlight was streaming in everywhere revealing beautiful wood paneling, antique door knobs and hand crafted cabinets.

This picture is a bit blurry, but it captures an emotion. The ceilings were high, there was a big pantry and I think five layers of wallpaper. Many different meals were cooked here. Was this room where family members spent most of their time? The wood on the wall that is painted white would have cost a fortune today. In fact everything in this house would have. I started fantasising what this house could be used for. Our meetings, a studio, a place to hold gatherings or a home for another family. Yet, was anything salvaged? James did mention that there was some stained glass missing from the last time he was there, but what about all of the other details?

This is the hall and you can see Karina outside. She was my guardian that day. Five police cars drove by, we know that there has been an increasing number of police in the area due to the on going gentrification that has been taking place over the past 15 years. Here you can see the tiling job and in fact, in some places the paint still looked fresh.

This is one of my favourite photos, the staircase was magnificent. You can see that the hard wood floors are still in great shape and are painted red. These drawers were actually part of a dresser upstairs which I managed to take out with me. I wanted to take many things that day. If only I had some proper tools and less police, I would have taken everything and built another house piece by piece. Why wasn't this house recognised as a heritage house and saved? How much was lost by throwing out such great craftsmanship and memories? 5 days later after we left - the house was torn down.

Johnstone had a vision, "I thought that if I could research its (227) history and show it had a story that the house would be saved." In a way 227, to me, was saved. Perhaps not as a whole piece, but with the diligent research of James Johnstone, architectural drawings by Graham Elvidge, photos collected from neighbors in the past as well as current photos taken by HAMP members, we have in fact created and saved many pieces - and together we made the best whole we could.