369 Powell Street

Today this is a food processing factory, but when it was built in 1936 it was a department store in the latest art deco style. The architect was T L Kerr, working for the store’s owner T Maikawa, whose name was incorporated into the store’s façade. This 1938 Vancouver Public Library image shows the store shopfront, and while that has been lost, the curved moderne awning is still in place.

Tomekichi Maikawa started the store after making his money fishing around Prince Rupert in the 1920s. He had a lumber business in Japan as well, so asked Kisaku Hayashi to run the store for him as he had to go back and forth too much to Japan. He had first acquired the store here in 1907, and this was a big investment for what was planned to be a chain of similar enterprises – a plan abandoned when war broke out.

The company supplied all the areas where Japanese Canadians were working from mining and lumbering to fishery industries in B.C., and from the Vancouver area to Vancouver Island and as far north as Prince Rupert. One of Tomekichi’s brothers ran the repair garage down the street, and another worked in the store seen here. There’s much more of the family history on the Nikkei voice website.

After the property was confiscated during the war, and the family were shipped off to an internment camp, the property stayed empty. Eventually, in the later 1940s International Plastics moved in, replaced in the early 1950s by Colman Furniture Ltd mfrs. Today Northwest Food Products Ltd make a wide variety of fried and steam-fried foods, including steamed and dried noodles and wonton wraps.



Posted 28 June 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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