Wednesday, November 23, 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
"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.
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.")
207 ½ Union Street
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The Decommissioning of 823 Jackson Avenue, Once the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel
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.
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.)
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
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.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Remembering Hogan's Alley and the Black Urban Landscape: 24 Feb. 2007
Photo (l to r): Wayde Compton, Naomi Moyer, Karina Vernon, Sheilagh Cahill, Ndidi Cascade, David Hilliard, Deanna Teeple, Afua Cooper and Junie Desil.
Meegan and David
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
February 24th HAMP event at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre!
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.
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.
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.
Indeed, the families in 227 represented a microcosm of the myraid of ethnicities who actually lived near and around Hogan's Alley.
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.