|Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture.|
It’s amazing to think our Heritage House Tour is 15 years strong this year! Still our biggest fundraiser of the year, we have opened hundreds of beautifully restored and cared for heritage and character homes across Vancouver in that time. Building awareness of the value heritage adds to our communities, our history and sustainability goals, the tour not only offers a chance to see inside lovely homes, but also allows up to 1500 people every year to see how heritage can work for a multitude of living options.
This year on the tour we visit Strathcona, where there is a “pepto-bismol” pink home, an Early Vernacular to be specific, across from the Strathcona Elementary school grounds. This 1906 house has a direct connection to the rich history of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. In November of 2012, VHF’s Places That Matter plaque project celebrated this home as the Walter and Mary Lee Chan house, where SPOTA and the legacy of a community came together, changed government thinking and halted what could have been the destruction of Strathcona and north downtown Vancouver, as we know it. Gatherings of concerned neighbours around the kitchen table, ideas to fight freeway development that flourished and a meeting place of local activism are still represented by its pink exterior to many in the community. Today, after a lengthy restoration and renovation which won a 2017 City of Vancouver Heritage Award of Merit, the house has a renewed life with the Chan family returning to the neighbourhood. Those who may not know its importance can read the Places That Matter plaque (in English and Chinese) and see the sidewalk mosaic as they walk by. The plaque reads:
Walter and Mary Lee Chan were the driving force behind the campaign to stop urban renewal in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood in the 1960s. Walter, Mary and friends organized the neighbourhood into the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) which halted the “wholesale destruction of older housing” and advocated that urban renewal funds be redirected to repair neighbourhood homes, an idea that soon became a national program.
If you’re a local history fanatic or heritage lover you’re sure to enjoy a day touring this home as well as 8 other heritage homes. From Strathcona to Shaughnessy, Shannon Estate to Dunbar, Kits and Kerrisdale, you can explore Vancouver’s diverse neighbourhood history and heritage architecture.
Inspired by the innovative restoration of one of the tour homes and in conjunction with the tour, special guest Conservation Architect and Urbanist, Mark Thompson Brandt will present an illustrated lecture on how Vancouver’s historic buildings and homes can embrace the sustainability goals that have become a common part of 21st century life. At this pre-tour lecture on June 1st, Mark will discuss why it is important to make sustainable our older building stock, how heritage conservation relates to environmental conservation and to the global and national movement towards the new “Low Carbon Economy”. Registration and more information here.
Designed as a self-guided tour best completed by vehicle (car-share or carpooling with friends and family or transit mapping), the tour this year also has a bus option. More information and how to register here.
We are proud of the long-term success and popularity of VHF’s Annual Heritage House Tour, and can’t wait to share these homes and their stories with you. We hope you’ll join us on our 15th anniversary and also help us celebrate the 25th anniversary of VHF.
If you live or work in, or know the owners of a heritage building you think would be a great addition to a future Heritage House Tour, contact us at 604 264 9642 or by email.