10. Joy Kogawa House (1913)

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2006 Top10 Watch List

10. Joy Kogawa House (1913)

In late fall 2005, City Council approved a 120-day demolition delay to allow sufficient funds to be raised for the purchase and preservation of the Kogawa House as a cultural and literary landmark.

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) has stepped in to help raise the over one million dollars required to buy the house and pay for the repairs and renovations necessary to convert it to a writers’ centre. However, if efforts to purchase the property within the 120-day period (which ends March 31) are unsuccessful, the current private owner will demolish the house.

The Kogawa House has special literary significance as the childhood home of acclaimed Canadian author Joy Kogawa. Through its depiction in her novel, Obasan, the house has a strong symbolic and historical association with the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WWII. The novel recalls this episode in Canadian history through the eyes of a child. Kogawa’s childhood home and the cherry tree in the back yard figure prominently in the novel.

Heritage Vancouver joins with other arts and literary groups across Canada to support the proposed writers’ centre.


Update October 29, 2016: In a $634,000 deal, the City of Vancouver will purchase the Historic Joy Kogawa House from The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) as the non-profit land trust continues to sell properties to rid itself of crippling debt.

“City of Vancouver purchases Obasan author’s house”
Vancouver Sun, October 29, 2016; by Glenda Luymes

Update August 10, 2006: With the help of a last minute anonymous corporate donor who came up with $500,000 at the last minute, the TLC has purchased the house to save it from demolition, but funds are still needed to restore and convert it into a writer’s centre.

Update April 14, 2006: The Land conservancy’s (TLC) fundraising and awareness campaign to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home continues. There is both relief and urgency as City Council recently granted a one-month extension to raise the funds needed for acquisition and rehabilitation.


Historic Joy Kogawa House Society

The Land Conservancy