Bingarra/Sun Doo Rooms

CVA 203-9 – 800 – 804 Main Street (and 208 Union Street) aka the SE corner of Main at Union. 1968.jpg

The commercial and residential building (shown immediately above and below) has been absent from the Vancouver landscape for about 50 years. It (and most of Hogan’s Alley to the south and east of this corner) were demolished to make way for the new (1972) Georgia Viaduct which would come barrelling through at this point on two gigantic concrete slabs. (In case you aren’t aware of what Hogan’s Alley was, see here for a little of history on the neighbourhood.)

When the apartment first was established in 1910, it was known as Bingarra Rooms [1]. The first proprietors were James and Mary Quinn who had come to Canada from Ireland in 1894. It remained the Bingarra until the mid-1940s, at which time it took a more Chinese name: Sun Doo Rooms.

CVA 203-11: View of the Sun Doo Rooms (the latest name of the apartment) from the rear (on Union Street). 1968.
CVA 216-1.23 – Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaduct concrete ramps running over Main St. (near Union St) looking NE, 1971.
CVA 203-18: 800 block Main Street, 1969. The view from the end of the 800 block Main up to the Sun Doo Rooms/London Drugs shop.
CVA 586-6105 – The view from Union Street rooms in the Sun Doo. You would have looked out at Luck Man Rooms (I think “Black Cat” was an ad for tobacco), on the NE corner of Union and Main Streets and the BC Electric Substation (as it then was) on the NW corner. 1945. Don Coltman.

J. W. Bailey, who bought the Bingarra after James Quinn died in 1922 (or perhaps just prior to his death), relied heavily on print advertisements to get the message out that the apartment was an economical, safe and clean place to live.

Vancouver Sun. 5 July 1921.

In March 1969, the City announced that it would expropriate the land that was home to many blacks and Chinese (and others of various ethnicities), including the land under Sun Doo Rooms. The residents had 4 months to find alternative accommodation.


  1. The source of the name “Bingarra” could be Irish, Australian, or American. It is the name of a townland in Galway; it is the name of a town in NSW in Australia; and it is the name of a well-known stallion in the early 1900s (owned by William Russell Allen of Massachusetts). Given that the first proprietors, James and Mary Quinn, were from Ireland, I’m betting on the Irish connection. (Many thanks to Robert of for digging up this info.)

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