Towards the Brighter Future

IMG_0594 IMG_0596 IMG_0600 IMG_0602 IMG_0604 IMG_0612 IMG_0623 IMG_0624IMG_0572IMG_0575IMG_0578IMG_0585IMG_0610IMG_0592 IMG_0598 IMG_0607IMG_0615 IMG_0619 IMG_0627

These are some images from this morning’s community photo event and of our incredible band of volunteers and artists who made it happen.


Join Us for a Community Photo

Join Us for a Community Photo

439 Powell Street – An Important Part of Our History & Community
鮑威爾街439 號 – 我們的歷史和社區

Ming Sun Benevolent Society, Vancouver, 1975

Ming Sun Benevolent Society, Vancouver, 1975

In 1975, members of the Ming Sun Benevolent Society gathered outside their building at 439 Powell Street for a 50th anniversary celebration.

一九七五年民星總社成員為慶祝總社成立五十週年在鮑威爾街439 號大樓門前合照

Dear family, friends and supporters,

Friends of 439 invites you to celebrate new beginnings and the Year of the Horse by joining us, along with members of the Ming Sun Benevolent Society, in re-creating the above photograph. We will take a multi-community, multi-generational photo to honour the building’s 125 years of history, the families and communities connected to it, and those who have come together from all walks of life to support its restoration. All are welcome.


WHEN:  Sunday, February 2, 2014
            Gather at 12:30pm, photograph will be taken at 1:00pm.

WHERE: In front of the Ming Sun-Uchida Building, 439 Powell St., Vancouver (opposite Oppenheimer Park).

日期:2014 年2月2日,星期日
集合時間: 中午12  時  30分
拍照時間 :下午 1時正
地點:鮑威爾街439 號民星總社正門前
Vancouver (across from Oppenheimer Park).

In December 2013, the building was almost demolished, but thanks to a groundswell of support from people from all walks of life – including Chinese Canadian, Japanese Canadian, indigenous, low-income, arts, heritage, and housing groups – the building still stands and there is a chance that together, we can save it.

2013年12月,這棟大樓面臨被拆卸的命運,多得無數有心人仕的協助 – 包括華裔加人,日裔加人,原住民,低收入,兿術界,保存歴史文化,房屋設計等群軆,商界人士和無數市民的支持下- 大樓的命運獲到重生,只要我們共同努力,我們一定可以把它修葺完美,讓它回復昔日的 光彩。

To donate to the ongoing restoration efforts, sign our petition, and for more info:


We hope to see you there!

Friends of 439

Tenants from Ming Sun’s Past: the Bak Mei 白眉 Kung Fu Association

From Fred Herzog’s fortuitous shot of a baby blue Ming Sun building, here are some fabulous photos of the Bak Mei Kung Fu Association who were the tenants in the Ming Sun Building/439 Powell in the early 1970s. The photos include a number of interior and exterior photos of 437/439 Powell.The Association is still in Vancouver’s Chinatown AND on the web.  For more information on the Bak Mei Kung Fu Association in 2014, please click here:

For a look at the full set of photos and captions, they can be found here.

Special thanks to Michael Chu and Michael Wong from the Bak Mei Kung Fu Association for sharing these wonderful historic photos!

439 Powell in Fred Herzog’s 1973 Orange Cars Powell


Just found!  The Ming Sun Building (in blue) from Fred Herzog’s 1973 Orange Cars. Serendipitously, Fred made a visit to 439 Powell late last year.

This photo is reproduced on this blog through the generosity (and permission) of Fred Herzog and the Equinox Gallery. We still looking for historic photos of the Ming Sun Building, please feel free to contact us and we would like to share them with everyone who would like to restore 439 Powell.

While we still have not figured out a way (yet) to individually thank all our community donors, we’d like to thank you here again as your donation goes into the campaign to restore 439 Powell.

Ming Sun Building History – Omni TV

Omni TV aired a history of Ming Sun Benevolent Society… the meaning of its name; the people it served; its role in helping fund the overthrow of the Qing, the last imperial dynasty in China, and helping Dr Sun Yat-sen (revolutionary) efforts in Vancouver.


by OMNI News, in English and in Cantonese
Ming Sun Building History – Dec 30, 2013 (BC).

Letter from Grace Eiko Thomson to Councillor Louie

The following is a letter that Grace Eiko Thomson, a long-time activist in the Japanese Canadian (JC) community wrote to Councillor Raymond Louie, to share with Vancouver’s Mayor and Council). She and Judy Hanazawa spoke at the City of Vancouver’s apology to the JC community (Sept 25, 2013) about the City’s role in the injustices of 1942 during the internment of Japanese Canadians. Saving the Ming Sun building would be one small way that the City could back the apology with some action to give it meaning . 

Dear Mr. Raymond Louie,

Thank you so very much for your prompt response. It is very much appreciated. What you are informing me of events to date are those that are pretty well known to me, regretfully. I think for the people who wish to save Ming Sun building, it has not been easy to find the funds to do all that is necessary to save it from demolishment, and for continued use as it were.

My main concern here, is not necessarily this building only, though I appreciate very much what this Benevolent Society has been doing and wish it could continue to do so.

This block on Powell Street is one that is filled with archival memories of old Japantown. As you well know,`towns’ such as Japantown and Chinatown (perhaps even Little Italy in New York) were formed at specific times in our history when Asian immigrants and their children were treated as second class (or perhaps third class) citizens. These towns with their own infrastructures developed out of necessity to give support to their communities, particularly with respect to jobs, but largely protection from outright discriminatory and racialization practices promoted by the government and politicians (i.e., White Canada Only, 1907 Riot.).

Japantown thrived for several decades to do just that, but for the second generation, those born in Canada, this place was nothing more than a ghetto, a place from which they wished to escape. They made an attempt by forming a League from which they sent representatives to Ottawa in 1936 to appeal for the right to vote. But with the expelling of all Japanese Canadians from Vancouver in 1942, (based on racism, not, as documented, security risks), this town was never allowed to develop to become what Chinatown is today, a place of pride.

Our children and grandchildren are slowly beginning to realize the importance of this place to their history. And I credit Powell Street Festival Society which reminds us all annually that a Japantown once existed here, and those who volunteer annually to work to the success of this event, now not only see this area as a site of memories that should not be forgotten but also as legacy of injustice that should not be repeated on those who currently live there (DTES).

Particularly the unique architectural façade of this block, the New World building (also known as the Tamura Building), and the few colourful homes that line Jackson Street (already saved as heritage buildings), together make up what remains of the old Japantown, which surrounded the centre of activity, Powell Ground, where the famous Asahi Baseball Team practiced and played their games. These are seen as backdrops in archival photographs of Japantown. It is an inheritance only of memory, if such physical traces are erased through demolishment without care of history and stories that need to be remembered about Canada`s development into this Multicultural nation. It is to be remembered that this area began with the Squamish Nations being displaced by the early European immigrants who moved to the middle class areas to the west, and soon after Japanese Canadians establishing residences, thanks to Hastings Mills which hired Asian immigrants.

Unlike Chinatown, which was able to flourish in time (though its residents during the Second World war, despite China being an ally of the West, continued to be treated as second class citizens, not allowed enlistment until later when both Chinese and Japanese Canadians were invited to join the Canadian armed forces), physical memories of Japantown are now being proposed to be erased totally with demolition of buildings or transfer to developers without (it would seem) much knowledge or care not only of lives once here, but of the precedent setting Government of Canada`s Redress Acknowledgement and Apology, and of the City of Vancouver`s Apology.

As a senior with early memories of this area, who lived through internment and dispersal, and who returned to Vancouver to spend the rest of my life here, I appeal to you, and all honourable Council Members, together with His Worship, Mayor Gregor Robertson, to take leadership and acknowledge a City with heart and responsibility to its residents. If we miss the chance offered at this moment to remember the significance of this area and its residents, we will have erased an important part of Vancouver`s (and Canada`s) history. I trust that the City`s proclaimed Year of Reconciliation is based on courage and spirit to act on such issues of history and present supported by ordinary citizens, not only economics, as the driving force.

Again, thank you very much for your kind consideration.
A Very Happy New Year to you and all Members.

Kind regards,
Grace Eiko Thomson