Although Vancouver is a thriving, multi-cultural city, the harried and often impersonal nature of the public realm keeps much of its rich history hidden below the surface. A fascinating part of this history took place in the East End neighbourhood of Strathcona, home to Vancouver’s only black community.
While Strathcona has always been ethnically diverse, with many Italian, Chinese and Japanese Canadians, a number of black families, black businesses, and the city’s only black church – the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel – were located there. As such, Strathcona was the first and last neighourhood in Vancouver with a substantial concentrated black population.
The black presence in Strathcona is often linked to Hogan’s Alley, an alley just a block long that ran through the southwestern corner of Strathcona. Largely destroyed in the late 1960s by construction of the Georgia Viaduct, the destruction of Hogan’s Alley was the beginning of the end of the black community in Strathcona. Today, the block of Hogan’s Alley bears no mark that there was ever a black presence there, and its stories are being forgotten.
The Black Strathcona Interactive Project (Black Strathcona) is an educational and innovative new media project, designed to address this problem by celebrating what was one of Vancouver’s most vibrant communities.
View the project at BlackStrathcona.com.
Visit the Black Strathcona page on Facebook.
Drawing by Richard Tetrault.