Chinatown Project

Chinatown at Night

It’s been a while since I blogged about Chinatown… or blogged at all for that matter. Life keeps getting busy and taking the time to sit down and write stuff to a general internet audience sometimes (in all honesty) ranks a little lower on my list of priorities. Lately, I’ve taken to exercise more and stay in shape, I’ve attempted to learn to dance a bit, I’ve been catching up on personal film work from the last year and a bit and I’m trying to finally put together that Chinatown book I’ve been meaning to do.

However, as I sit down and dedicate some time to blog, I’m reminded of how therapeutic it can be to write your thoughts and share my photographs. Blogging is a chance to just sit and reflect, which I realize in this world of high tech and fast-paced smart phone notifications is a luxury these days… but is one luxury I intend to do more of. :)

I started my Chinatown blogging on my old blog at jonathandesmond.blogspot.ca but eventually moved it to this blog. However, a lot has happened between the old blog and now. My Chinatown project has grown into something much bigger than a photography project; it has become an immensely personal documentary project that I hope will provide a narrative of the last 6 years of Chinatown’s community, lifestyle and constant changes.

During this one particular evening, I met with some fellow friends from the Wong Association and we had some time to have pizza together and hangout. While we did, I took some photographs of Chinatown.

 Obligatory (?) Window Selfie. Maybe I should trademark that…

Obligatory (?) Window Selfie. Maybe I should trademark that…

Chinatown at Night-3.jpg
 The Chinatown Summer Market was on in full force last year. This year (2018) it was shut down.

The Chinatown Summer Market was on in full force last year. This year (2018) it was shut down.

 This is the place where the old Daisy Garden used to be before a fire burned it down.

This is the place where the old Daisy Garden used to be before a fire burned it down.

 Most of Chinatown is seen from the exterior of the buildings and on the streets. However, the inside of these buildings show signs of a larger and vibrant community. (Note: I only explore these places with permission granted from the owners).

Most of Chinatown is seen from the exterior of the buildings and on the streets. However, the inside of these buildings show signs of a larger and vibrant community. (Note: I only explore these places with permission granted from the owners).

 The Mon Keang School at night

The Mon Keang School at night

 Two chairs are lighted by the street lights outside.

Two chairs are lighted by the street lights outside.

Getting Deeper Into the Chinatown Project

Since 2013, I've been continually photographing Chinatown and as the years went on, I found myself meeting people and getting more involved. Eventually, I ended up joining the Wong Association and well... here I am. This project ended up becoming much more bigger than I ever thought it would be. I find that this 5+ year journey has me now intertwined in the conversation of Vancouver's Chinatown.

 The Hon Hsing is the "sports" arm of the Wong Association.

The Hon Hsing is the "sports" arm of the Wong Association.

Thanks to my time here, I've now been afforded the opportunity to do documentary work that is beyond the usual street photography stuff. Being in and a part of this community has given me opportunities to document and get to know people and feel the true vibrant spirit of Chinatown that is not readily apparent from the streets. I've visited various Associations, experienced the battle over Chinatown's heritage and future and have made many friends along the way. It has truly been a blessing and I do hope one day that these photos will serve to remind future what was and inspire what could be.

 Old and Young.

Old and Young.

I am currently working on a book representing the first 3 years of my project and will later on make a second book to cover the next 2-3 years after. My Chinatown photos are strewn in various places on the web such as over two blogs and on various Facebook and Instagram posts (@jonathan_desmond_journal), so having a book will bring all my images together into one final item that I can show to future generations. 

Below is a brief gallery of photographs I took while I attended the Wong Association banquet:

Documenting Chinatown: Vancouver's Chinese New Years Parade... LAST Year...

  It was very wet last year...

It was very wet last year...

So it's taken me a while to blog this. Life became busier and wedding season went into full gear and I found myself with little time to edit my own personal work... but these last few months have been a great time for me to sit and look back at the year that was. As I sit here a week prior to the 2018 Chinese New Year Parade, I thought I'd share some of the major photo highlights from last year's 2017 Chinese New Year Parade.

Last year's Parade was a defining moment for me and this Chinatown Project that I'm involved in. It was the first time I was actually IN the parade rather than taking photographs outside of it. This afforded me opportunities to document the events and the moments happening all around me, including taking some firework debris to the face (true story), getting up close with the lion dances and seeing the smiling faces of those being drenched on by Vancouver's rain but marching onwards with pride.

I'm looking forward to being a part of the parade again this year. For now, here's the Chinatown Parade from last year. Full Gallery at the bottom.

  Up close with one of the lions.

Up close with one of the lions.

  The kind of moves these guys pulled with this dragon was mesmerizing.

The kind of moves these guys pulled with this dragon was mesmerizing.

  A lot of people attended, despite the heavy rain fall.

A lot of people attended, despite the heavy rain fall.

If you see anyone you recognize (or it's you!), let me know as I'd like to send you a photo :)

Chinatown Has Changed... And It's Only Been A Year

I recently walked around Chinatown with a good Pentaxian friend of mine Jack Simpson. While I enjoy walking on my own at times, it's nice to have a friend along to talk to. I learned a bit about the old Chinatown days while we walked and explored together and it's really interesting to hear about the changes that have happened since the days of long ago.

 Jack as himself. :)

Jack as himself. :)

But... I didn't have to wait too long to see a change for myself. We came up to a place that I usually used as my "going back" point. Once I made my rounds and walked to this area, I usually started my walk back towards the station to head back home (photographing along the way of course). This time, I saw this place and it was... for lease.

 I pulled this image from one of my blog posts I made in 2013. Lok's Produce is an iconic store on Gore and East Georgia.  http://jonathandesmond.blogspot.ca/2014/02/an-update-on-2013-chinatown-project.html

I pulled this image from one of my blog posts I made in 2013. Lok's Produce is an iconic store on Gore and East Georgia.

http://jonathandesmond.blogspot.ca/2014/02/an-update-on-2013-chinatown-project.html

Roughly a little over a year later (I was on a bit of a hiatus for a while), this is what I saw:

ChinatownRain-8.jpg

In this day and age, change is inevitable but it is still a bit surprising to see. Seeing this for myself no doubt has encouraged me to continue on this project and document what I can. 

Below is more of Chinatown that I hope to put together into another book for not only myself but, hopefully, future generations. For now, a few photographs: