What Do CNR Depot and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden Have in Common?

The Chinese Tennis Club was at both locations!

2008-010.2265 – Chinese Tennis Club group portrait at their first location just south of the CNR Railway Depot (now known as Pacific Central Depot). The gent seated in front row, center, wearing a clerical collar is presumably Rev. Ivan Wong, Club secretary in 1940 (and pastor to the United Church Chinese Mission at East Pender and Dunlevy). Photo made 1939.

A brief chronology of the Chinese Tennis Club:

  • 1936: Chinese Tennis Club was established. The Club was affiliated with the B.C. Lawn and Tennis Association. The Club played other clubs in that association (including Jericho and Stanley Park clubs) and also played other pacific coast clubs (including cities in the so-called tri-cities (Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland). Original membership of Club was about 20-25.
  • 1937: Club had 63 members.
  • 1938: Club had four clay courts just south of the CNR Depot; the court site was presumably leased from Canadian National Railway. The courts seem to have been located roughly where long-distance buses park today at Pacific Central Depot. The Vancouver Chinese Tennis Club was the only Chinese tennis club to have its own courts among Pacific coast cities.
  • 1939: Membership: 80
  • 1941: New courts and clubhouse at 550 Carrall Streeet were ready in July. According to the Charles Louie interview cited below, all of the funds for materials were raised by the Club and the labour on the courts and clubhouse was done by Club members.
  • 1946 (Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee Year): Pacific Coast Chinese Tennis Championships were held in June at the Club courts on Carrall Street. Players from San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle participated. The tournament was officially opened by Chinese Consul-General to Vancouver, Hon. Li Chao and Vancouver Mayor Jack Cornett (Sun, 29 June 1946).
  • 1949: Late in the year, the Club was disbanded. This was due to City of Vancouver expropriation of the land on which the clubhouse and courts were situated in order to extend Keefer Street through to Carrall Street. (I suspect, but cannot prove, that a contributing reason was the development of part of the site by the new Marshall-Wells wholesale hardware). The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden was situated approximately at the same location as the Chinese Tennis Club when it was opened in 1986.

One of the great constants among those on the executive of the Chinese Tennis Club was Charles E. Louie (1908-1977). He was President of the Club from its inception until it disbanded. Jack Chan was another regular member of the executive. He was for several years the Club’s tennis instructor.

The Club would each year hold a season opening and closing dinner/dance, often at the White Rose Ballroom, and occasionally at the Peter Pan Ballroom (both on West Broadway).

2008-010.2271 – Second (and final) Chinese Tennis Club site at 550 Carrall Street. Near the site of the future Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden (578 Carrall Street, 1986-present). ca1941.


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4 Responses to What Do CNR Depot and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden Have in Common?

  1. lhhouben says:

    Very interesting. I finally visited the gardens recently and enjoyed them very much. They are so pretty.

  2. Neil Whaley says:

    Creative headline & intro, Murray.

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