98 East Pender Street

We looked at the history of this building in an earlier post. In a later incarnation it became the Mandarin Gardens, but by 1920 it was supposedly the home of W K Chop Suey, according to the details of this Vancouver Public Library image. Actually, W K Chop Suey only appeared here in the 1922 street directory, managed by David Lee, so the image may date from after 1920, or it’s possible that the directory compilers were slow to catch the new business. It’s certainly from before 1924 when W K Chop Suey (which occupied the upper floor) had closed. Another restaurant appeared in 1927 at 127 East Pender as the WK Oriental Gardens, with a new company capitalized at $10,000 run by Harold and Wilbert Lim.

David Lee had arrived in Canada in 1911, and had been born in China in 1892, and in 1921 had two roomers living in his home in the 700 block of East Pender. He was listed as a restaurant labourer, so the promotion to manager a year later was a significant step up.

We noted in the earlier post that the $20,000 development was designed by E E Blackmore for Mrs Chance Wong Co, but that we couldn’t trace who that was. The contractor was Edgar Wilson, and we’ve traced another 1919 permit for work on the building that was owned by ‘Mrs Chance Wong Lo’, with the work designed and built by Yuen Wong. The same builder also worked on the adjacent building, which was owned by Lau Yip Wong, with Fong Wong running a jewellery store there. He was also listed as owner of this building when it was repaired in 1920. Despite the local Caucasian architect, the design borrowed from the vernacular Pearl River Delta architecture from Guangdong province that many Vancouver Chinatown buildings display.

The 1921 census helps clarify who the developer probably was. Fong Wong lived at this address (as 92 E Pender) with his wife, Chan Shee. They had both arrived in 1906, and had three sons and a daughter, all born in BC and aged between five and eight. A cousin and four lodgers also lived with them. Fong was a merchant, dealing in jewellery, and we wondered if there was a business reason why his wife was listed as the developer of the building, or whether she was in business in her own right. A 1931 court case clarified that Chansee Fong Wong was an active participant in the management of property in Chinatown. In 1927 she leased 143 East Pender, a second floor premises, to Wong Fon Hong, who operated the International Chop Suey restaurant there. The rent was $18,000 a year, and by mid 1929 the restaurant owed 2 months payments. She hired baliffs to take over the premises, and the case revolved around the question of whether the lessee gave up the property, or should have been allowed to make the late payments and continue in business. In a split decision, the judges ruled that “When giving up the keys at three o’clock in the morning, the lessees said ‘Here are the keys, we cannot carry on’.”

In the early 1950s the building was demolished, and became part of an extended Columbia Street, which until then had stopped at Pender.

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Posted June 25, 2018 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Gone

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