213 – 215 East Cordova Street

This 1927 image shows the new premises of the Tairiku Nippo Sha, or Continental Daily News, a Japanese language newspaper that started publication in 1907. There’s a cartouche with the initials ‘TNS’ on the upper part of the building. As Japantown, centered on Powell Street, grew and prospered, the newspaper was able to move into modern accommodation.

Patrick Gunn from Heritage Vancouver tracked down the building permit; it was approved in April 1927, and the business seem to have moved here in August that year. Gardiner & Mercer were the architects of the building with an unusual combination of recessed balcony and a Mission style roof. Moncrieff & Vistaunet built the $28,000 project. When the newspaper moved here it was run by “Mr. Yamasaki” Yasushi Yamazaki, who bought the Nippō in 1908 (after founder Dosa Iida ran into problems related to his attack on Japanese prostitution, and the men who controlled it). Born in Toyama in 1871, Yashudi arrived in B.C. in 1893, working as a logger, fisherman and miner. He was Secretary of the Japanese Fishermen’s Union in Steveston in 1900 and active in the Japanese fishermen’s strike. In the 1901 census he was listed as Y Yamasaki, a lodger, working as a laborer.

He began publishing a newspaper in Seattle in 1902 before returning to publish the Vancouver paper. Far from backing down from challenging the Japaeses sex trade, Yashudi continued the campaign against the prostitution of Japanese women, including publishing their pictures in a book published by the newspaper. He was President of the Canadian-Japanese Association from 1909-17. At the outbreak of war, hoping to get Japanese Canadians greater acceptance, and potentially the vote, he organized the Canadian Japanese Volunteer Corp (WWI). The corps of 200 was rejected as too small, but many members were accepted into the army in Alberta, and fought in Europe as Canadian soldiers. While remaining in charge of the Vancouver newspaper, from 1917-33 he was also editor of a newspaper in Japanese-held Manchuria. In the 1920s he lived on the next block, but although continuing as President of the newspaper, by 1930 he was no longer living in Vancouver. The newspaper was closed down in 1941, and Yasushi Yamazaki died in 1947 in Japan.

It appears from the street directory that the upper floor of the building might have been converted to residential use; in 1947 this address was the Mayfair Hotel Rooms (and next door were cabins, that can also be seen in the 1927 image). In 1955 the Mafair rooms were still here, with the lower floor shared by ‘Can Govt Agriculture Health of Animals’, and ‘Nifty Noodles’. By 1973 this had become the back of the new $6m Courthouse, designed by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss.

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Posted March 30, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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