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Strathcona

Strathcona

Strathcona is one of this city's earliest neighbourhoods. It features beautifully restored row houses, overflowing flower gardens, and welcoming front porches.

Strathcona grew out of the collection of shacks and small buildings that surrounded the Hastings Mill site, and has a unique mix of people, history, land use, and architecture.

It is a neighbourhood of houses, apartment buildings, and rooming houses where neighbours walk to the corner store, do tai chi in the parks or stroll in the community garden. It is a community that has managed to survive, and thrive, despite constant pressure for change.

Strathcona includes the neighbourhoods of:

Discover the historic districts of Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside

Neighbourhood history and heritage

Known as the "East End" - the original East End School which gave the area its name was at the corner of Powell and Jackson - well into the 1950s, Vancouver's first neighbourhood grew up around the Hastings Milland expanded southward from Burrard Inlet. It has always been a diverse neighbourhood where a succession of immigrants including the British, Irish, Russian, Croatian, Greeks, and Scandinavians, Japanese and Chinese have lived before moving on to other parts of the city.

In the 1950s, City planners earmarked the neighbourhood (now calling it Strathcona because of the 1897 elementary school at Jackson and Keefer) for a massive redevelopment scheme of public housing. The project would have featured block upon block of identical apartments buildings and townhouses. Combined with this proposal were plans for an inner city freeway which would have included the destruction of Gastown and Chinatown.

Strathcona residents mobilized in opposition. They argued for the retention and renovation of the area's eclectic mix of housing but by the time the redevelopment proposals were shelved 15 blocks of the neighbourhood had already been demolished. In 1968, the community convinced federal, provincial and municipal governments to support a $5 million rehabilitation project that included homes, street and sidewalk repairs, and the creation of new parks.

Did you know?

  • The Venice Bakery was started in a storefront on Princess Avenue in 1909. It was one of at least four bakeries in the neighbourhood.
  • A street car service ran along East Georgia Street from Main Street to Victoria Drive and back again on a 20 minute service.
  • The names of the streets in Strathcona were named after directors of the Vancouver Improvement Company which owned and subdivided the area.
  • Until the 1950's, the neighbourhood was known simply as the "East End". When the area was about to be redeveloped it was given the name Strathcona (after the school) by City Planners. The Strathcona name had been used by the CPR for its west side subdivisions near 36th Ave.
  • The 1907 Pantages Theatre near Main and Hastings was the oldest remaining Pantages Theatre in North America until it was demolished in 2011.
  • The upstairs of the Carnegie Library was the home to the Vancouver Museum until 1968.
  • Gore Street, the only street in the area to run at an angle to the regular grid system, was originally a logging skid road leading to the Hastings Sawmill on the waterfront.

Strathcona has one of the largest concentrations of 19th and early 20th century buildings in Vancouver. The area bounded by Pender and Prior Streets, Campbell and Jackson Avenues, and two blocks south of Prior Street, was identified as a character area in the 1986 City of Vancouver Heritage Inventory because of its unique mix of building styles. Styles range from small cottages and modest vernacular houses to large "Queen Anne" homes decorated with elaborate brackets and shingle work.

Some significant heritage buildings include:

  • Lord Strathcona School: built in 1897 is one of the oldest standing school building in Vancouver
  • The Seymour School No. 1: Built in 1900, the school is the oldest wooden school building in Vancouver.
  • Seymour School No. 2: built in 1907 to the designs of W.T. Whiteway
  • St. Francis Xavier Church, at 579 E. Pender Street, was built in 1919. Once the home of Swedish, Greek and Ukrainian congregations, the church now serves the Chinese-Canadian Catholic community.
  • The Principal's House, at Princess and Keefer opposite Strathcona School was built by the school's principal, Gregory Tom in 1900.

See detailed information on the city's heritage and a complete list of heritage buildings.

Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.

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