BCHF News City of Vancouver purchases Historic Joy Kogawa House

City of Vancouver purchases Historic Joy Kogawa House

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) has transferred ownership of the Historic Joy Kogawa House — childhood home of Canadian author Joy Kogawa — to the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver’s Historic Joy Kogawa House, located at 1450 West 64th Avenue in Vancouver, is now owned by the City of Vancouver. Photo: Jackie Wykes.

The house was transferred to the City of Vancouver on November 1, 2016 — 10 years after it was purchased by TLC to stave off demolition. The City will enter into a lease with the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, which manages the property, at a nominal rent to permit the continued use of the house as a cultural and education centre.

Joy Kogawa is best known as the author of the novel Obasan, based on her forced relocation as a child during World War II.

The house that bears her name is located in Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood and was built between 1912 and 1913 for original owner Robert Mackie, a foreman in the public works department of the City of Vancouver. Ms. Kogawa and her family, the second owners, lived in the house from 1937 until 1942. In 1942, the family was sent to an internment camp along with thousands of other Japanese-Canadians. The house and its contents were confiscated under the War Measures Act.

In 2006, after a community campaign led by Ms. Kogawa and others, TLC purchased the property. Funds from the 2016 purchase price of $634,000 will retire the mortgage on title and help the TLC pay debts to creditors.

The house is managed by the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society as a heritage and cultural centre, and as a site of healing and reconciliation. The Society facilitates literary events and programming at the house, including a writers-in-residence program for visiting authors, tours for school groups, and public events. Plans are also underway to restore the house to its 1930s appearance. The house is open by appointment only.

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Portions of this story are excerpted from the TLC news release “Supreme Court of BC Approves Sale of Historic Joy Kogawa House” (October 28, 2016).