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27 East Pender Street

27 East Pender Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of 27 East Pender Street; City of Vancouver, 2004
Front facade
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The historic place at 27 East Pender Street is a four-storey brick building, comprising a store at ground level with meeting rooms above, on East Pender Street, the 'main street' of Vancouver's historic Chinatown.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of 27 East Pender Street is derived from it being an important early example of an architecturally distinct 'Chinatown style', and for its associations with a number of economic and social activities that were important to Chinatown.

Constructed in 1910, one aspect of the heritage value of this building is that it is an early example of a building with characteristics of a distinct Chinatown architectural style: vertical proportions; four storeys high (some have only three), with one or more of the upper floors featuring recessed balconies and building-wide glazing facing the street. Built to designs by a European-Canadian architect, R.J. MacDonald, one year after the construction of the prototype, the Chinese Benevolent Association Building (1909), the adaptation of this design to additional buildings in Chinatown, including this one, represents a significant shift away from the earlier use of architectural styles found in commercial buildings throughout Vancouver toward a more distinctly 'Chinese' form. This form would later come to be identified with Chinatown. The later addition, in 1914, of a metal cornice added to the distinct character of the building's appearance.

The mixed use of the building is representative of the area, with a succession of retail businesses (including a grocery store, a restaurant, and a silk merchant) occupying the ground floor, and institutional and single room residential uses in the upper storeys.

Heritage value is also found in the history of the Hon Hsing Athletic Association, one of the building's tenants. Hong Hsing's ch'uan fa classes were probably the first organized Chinese martial arts classes in Canada; these classes were opened to non-Chinese students only in the 1960s. Established in 1938, Hon Hsing is also important as an early example of a clan-based (in this case the Wongs) organization endeavouring to provide, and direct, activities for young people. The history of the Hon Hsing provides insight into the sometimes difficult relations between generations, an ongoing theme in twentieth century community life in Chinatown.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of 27 East Pender Street include:
- Location on the north side of Pender Street, Chinatown's 'main street'
- Vertical emphasis achieved by expression of vertical elements in the brick party walls and window mullions.
- Low storey heights
- Facade-width double-hung windows, decorative millwork, and pilasters
- Recessed balcony with building-wide glazing to rear.
- Right-hand side entry to staircase leading to upper floors, causing asymmetry of the storefront in an otherwise symmetrical elevation
- The mixture of uses including retail, residential, and institutional



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

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Group Residence

Architect / Designer

R.J. MacDonald



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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