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Nationalist League Building

525 Gore Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of the Nationalist League Building; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

Nationalist League Building
Kuomintang Building
Chinese Nationalist League Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

This four-storey building is located at 525 Gore Avenue at the eastern gateway to Vancouver's historic Chinatown. The building houses a mix of commercial, institutional and social uses.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Nationalist League Building is derived from its longstanding association with the Chinese Nationalist League and, through this, its association with an important aspect of life in most overseas Chinese communities in the twentieth century, namely intense involvement by the community in Chinese politics. The heritage value of the building is also derived from its architect and architecture.

The Chinese Nationalist League or Kuomintang (KMT) built this building in 1920 as their western Canadian headquarters. After 1927, the KMT governed China, and the league's power and influence in the overseas community increased. Major activities included sponsoring campaigns to raise money for relief in China and fostering educational endeavours in Vancouver (the Chinese Public School was once one of the building's tenants). The League continued to be important after the Communists took power in 1948, although over time it also became a symbol of divisions of interest and allegiance between the older generation, who remained loyal to the KMT, and by extension, Taiwan, and the younger generations, both Canadian-born and immigrants, who took less interest in Chinese politics. The history of the League reflects the evolution of the community and its definition of what is important in relationship to being Chinese.

The construction of the building in 1920 coincides with an upsurge in the population of Vancouver's Chinatown and its establishment as the leading Chinese community in western Canada. The work of architect W.E. Sproat, the building is an example of the blending of eastern and western styles, typical of the time period in Chinatown. It is considered Sproat's landmark building, as he mainly designed houses. Following a common pattern in Chinatown, for most of the building’s history, the ground floor was occupied by retail stores, with residential and meeting rooms upstairs.

The location at the eastern gateway to Chinatown is important. It likely had symbolic value to the Nationalist League and it now serves as a marker of the eastern edge of historic Chinatown. These roles are reinforced by the League with the use of flags to mark the top of the building, large scale signage on the building announcing its role at the League's headquarters, and the building's architecture, especially the distinctive fourth floor windows.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Nationalist League Building include its:
- Prominent corner location and the height of the building over its neighbours
- Landmark status of the building through its location, use of flags, and other forms of identification
- Institutional use of the building by an important organization in Chinatown
- Arrangement and design of windows
- Use of classical architectural elements, including the pressed-metal cornice, arcading, diocletian windows, pilasters and capitals, emphasised by polychromy
- Stores with awnings at street level
- Entry to the main store through door on corner chamfer



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.593

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Politics and Political Processes

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment


Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Multiple Dwelling

Architect / Designer

W.E. Sproat



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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