566 Powell Street

This modest 2-storey building has been around since 1911, when it was built as stores and a rooming house by William McNeil. In 1911 there was a William McNeil listed as a contractor, with premises on West Hastings and a home on East 36th Avenue. In 1913 he’s shows as being in real estate, unlike the other two William McNeils, who were both painters.

This property was immediately part of Japantown, with Kobeya & Co, a grocers on the main floor, and a Japanese rooming house upstairs. The occupants changed over time, but the uses stayed the same. In both 1930 and 1940 J Nishimura ran the grocers store, and in 1940 T Yamashita was upstairs, although in 1930 it was recorded as ‘Orientals’.

Everything changed with the war, forcing all the Japanese out of the city and into internment camps. By 1945 C C Carter had his electrical contracting business on the main floor, and upstairs was just described as ‘rooms’. This was still true a decade later. Carter’s were still in business here in the early 1970s, but by 1975 when Greg Girard photographed the picture on the right at 6am, the A-2 Café had moved in (but were still closed at that hour), offering Chinese and western Food. The café was still there in our 1985 image, although the reference to Chinese food was no longer on the window. Today there’s still a restaurant, but now with revived Japanese connection. “Dosanko serves a selection of home-style, seasonally inspired yōshoku and classic Hokkaido plates with an emphasis on fresh housemade ingredients and a mottainai or “no waste” philosophy“.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0878

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Posted August 6, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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