Chinatown Tour: A Look Back Through History

By Aidan

On January 30th, the Discovery class had a unique cultural tour in one of Vancouver history-rich neighborhoods: Chinatown. We began our tour at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen classical chinese garden with an introduction to Thomas, our guide. Thomas had a wealth of information of all things in Chinatown. He launched our tour explaining to us that the garden was built to replicate a scholar’s garden during the Ming Dynasty. The garden would’ve been a place for a scholar to think, reflect, contemplate or even observe the stars. The class broke off into small groups and wandered the winding paths, observing the asymmetric arrangements of rocks and plants and admire the courtyards. After we reconvened, Thomas explained the political system China had in place for hundreds of years: a meritocracy. This system awarded government positions based on merit; any citizen could write a exam, and the top performing scores were given positions of influence. The impact of this system is still felt today as Chinese culture puts high priority towards education.

After our view of the garden, the class walked through Chinatown to arrive at Newtown Bakery, a staple in Chinatown that has been serving authentic Chinese food and baked goods for 30 years. The boys broke off into separate groups, ordered and thoroughly enjoyed their lunch filled with good food and company.

Back on the street, we began our walking back towards the bus. Thomas pointed out notable buildings, explained the immigration to the area and significant events in the neighbourhoods history. All the while, we took in the unique architecture that exists in Chinatown. Finally, Thomas explained that one day he hopes that Chinatown will return to the cultural hub that it once was, fully alive with the traditions of old. Overall, the Discovery class found Chinatown’s rich history enthralling, we were awestruck with the unseen side of Vancouver.

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