252 East Georgia Street
252 East Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada
Links and documents
1910/01/01 to 1916/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The historic place consists of a two-storey commercial block located on the south side of East Georgia Street, at the southern edge of Vancouver's historic Chinatown. The bulding sits on two separate parcels, both addressed as 252 East Georgia Street.
Constructed between 1910-1916, the heritage value in this building is found in the typicality of its architecture and use. Heritage value is also found in its association with the Louie family and the development of their grocery wholesale business.
Located at the edge of Chinatown, this building was used as a stable by, and likely constructed for, the local building materials firm of Champion and White. This stable was built of brick, which is not surprising since their stable on Main Street burned down in 1912. In about 1930 the building was adapted for use as a home and warehouse by the H.Y. Louie Company. The company was established by Hok Yat Louie in the early 1900s. Under his son Tong's direction, it became the leading grocery and drygoods business in the Province. Most people know it today as London Drugs.
These associations, especially with H.Y. Louie and the history of the Chinese community in Vancouver, contribute to the heritage value of the building. The wholesale grocery trade was one of the few areas where Chinese businessmen were able to compete with white men, although in Vancouver these businessmen were repeatedly subjected to efforts by the white community to exclude them. In the context of this racism, the building symbolizes the economic struggles of Chinese families and how they addressed them. The story of the Louie family and their subsequent success also symbolizes aspects of the Chinese Canadian and immigrant experience more generally, in which the first generation works to establish later generations. In this case, Tong, the second son, attended the University of British Columbia and later led the expansion of the family business, breaking down barriers and redefining what it meant to be Chinese in Canada.
The use of the building by the Louies, as both residence and warehouse, was a common combination in Chinatown at the time and contributes to its heritage value. The location on East Georgia Street is also important as this street was lined with similar types of businesses. The architecture is typical of its time and function.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of 252 East Georgia Street include its:
- location on East Georgia Street, on the southern edge of Chinatown, in an area of numerous wholesale and retail grocery businesses
- ongoing use of the ground floor spaces for business, including wholesale and retail grocery sales
- surviving structural divisions on the ground floor and remnants of the stable/truck entrance to the building
- red brick facing and other features typical of a commercial block of this period, such as the cornice
- fenestration, including features such as the size, distribution, arrangement, and use of sash mechanism
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.582
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
- Commerce / Commercial Services
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection