1889 Construction of Wing Sang building

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An article entry in the category: Chronology-Milestones

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Built Form | Demographics | Economy | People |


The Wing Sang building, an Italianate structure is the first brick building in Vancouver's Chinatown. The original 1889 two storey building was added to by architect Thomas Ennor with third floor on the original and a three storey building to east in 1901. A six-storey building was added to the rear the property in 1912 facing Market Alley. the gap between the two structures was bridged by a walkway off the third floor. Market Alley was once a thriving retail street between Carrall and the public market building on Main Street. Vegetable dealers, shoemakers, tinsmiths and other merchants played their trades here. One of the two opium factories in Chinatown was located in the Market Alley


The Wing Sang building is the first structure in Chinatown to built of brick. The building, which still stands, has been at the centre of development of Vancouver's Chinatown for more than 125 years. The Wing Sang Company was one of the largest Chinatown-based companies with a provincial reach. Yip Sang's influence was felt across the city in business and the community. He was fluent in English, a naturalized British (1891) subject and by the early 1900s had a successful business and real estate portfolio, including the West Hotel, Chinese Times Building, the tenements on Canton Alley among other real estate ventures.

Within the Chinese community, Yip was a local leader. He helped establish the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, the Chinese Board of Trade and was a Life Governor of the Vancouver General Hospital. He helped create a hospital (which today continues as Mount St. Joseph on Kingsway at 15th Ave.) and public school for the Chinese community of Vancouver


Construction began in 1888 and the building opening in 1889.


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