Joy Kogawa House Facing Bulldozer – Press Release Oct 27, 2005

Joy Kogawa House Facing Bulldozer – Press Release Oct 27, 2005



The residence at 1450
West 64th Avenue, former childhood home of author Joy Kogawa, now
marked for demolition plans. – photo by Don Montgomery

– For immediate release    –

 “Joy Kogawa House Facing Bulldozer”

October 28, 2005

Only a week after writers from across Canada and around the world were
celebrated at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival,
the childhood home of Vancouver- born Joy Kogawa, one of Canada’s most
eminent authors, is in increased danger of being bulldozed into the
ground.

Gerry McGeough, Senior Heritage Planner in the City of Vancouver
Planning Department, has confirmed that the current owner of Kogawa's
former childhood home on 1450 West 64th Avenue has drawn up
architectural plans for the redevelopment of the site including
demolition of the Kogawa house. Processing a development and demolition
application by the City takes less than four weeks.

McGeough will recommend to the Vancouver City Council Standing
Committee on Planning and Environment on November 3 that City Council
recognize the heritage value of the Marpole property and issue a
120-day demolition delay order as allowed by section 591 of the City
Charter. The meeting is open to the public. The Save Kogawa House
Committee, formed when the home first went up for sale in September of
2003, will also ask the Planning and Environment Committee to urge City
Council to pass the 120-day demolition delay order.

The Committee has contacted professional writers organizations across
Canada to support the drive to save Kogawa's childhood home as a
Vancouver literary landmark and convert it into a major
writers-in-residence centre for Canadian and international writers.
This support from eight associations, representing several thousand
professional writers, will be released shortly. For Kogawa, the 1450
West 64th Avenue property became a symbol of lost hope and happiness
after she, at age six, and her family were removed from their home in
1942 as part of the forced evacuations and internment of over 20,000
Japanese-Canadians during World War II. The house is featured in the
award-winning novel Obasan and the children’s story Naomi's Road, which
premiered on September 30 as Vancouver Opera's second-ever commissioned
original work and is now touring to 140 schools and community centres
throughout B.C.

“The destruction of the Kogawa home would be a great loss of cultural
heritage for Vancouver, for British Columbia, and for Canada,” Margaret
Atwood declared at the Vancouver International Writers Festival on
October 13. “Although Canada scored high on the recent all-nations
report card, it scored low on culture, history and heritage. Why
destroy more of this precious asset?”

The Save Kogawa House Committee reactivated when it was alerted on
September 21st that a demolition application was expected.  Two
years ago the committee tried to raise funds to buy the house and
persuade the federal government to protect the cultural landmark, but
became dormant when the owner made no plans for demolition at the
time.  The committee seeks to preserve the Kogawa House as a
Canadian and international writer’s centre, similar to the Pierre
Berton House in Dawson City and the Margaret Laurence House in Neepawa,
for the cultural heritage of future generations.

“There is only one literary monument erected in Vancouver for a
Canadian author,” says BC Bookworld publisher Alan Twigg, “It is the
Pauline Johnson memorial in Stanley Park.” Johnson died in 1913.

Kogawa is the recipient of many awards including the Order of Canada in
1986. Roy Miki, Simon Fraser University Professor and 2003 Governor
General's Award Winner for Poetry, has called Obasan the most important
literary work of the past 30 years for understanding Canadian
history.  In 2005 Obasan was selected by the Vancouver Public
Library for its One Book One Vancouver program, encouraging all
Vancouverites to read this single book. 

Mayor Larry Campbell and members of Vancouver City Council will plant a
cutting from Joy Kogawa’s cherry tree from the childhood home featured
in Obasan in the garden of City Hall November 1 to commemorate the
experience of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Paul
Whitney, City Librarian of the Vancouver Public Library, James Wright,
General Director of Vancouver Opera, and Joy Kogawa will also
participate. The public tree planting ceremony takes place in the City
Hall garden, north of City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue.

If City Council passes the demolition delay order, the Save Kogawa
House Committee will raise funds to purchase the property.  The
Vancouver Heritage Foundation has set up a fund to save the Kogawa
house and will issue charitable receipts for donations. All donations
to the Joy Kogawa house rescue receive a tax receipt for the full
amount of the donation. Cheques should be made out to “Vancouver
Heritage Foundation” and mailed to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation,
844 West Hastings St., Vancouver, B.C. V6C 1C8. Donors are asked to
indicate on the cheque memo line: “Save Kogawa House.” Donations can
also be made on-line on the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s website
http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/kogawa.html
 
If the Vancouver City Council does not vote to delay demolition, the
house may be demolished within weeks.  It then becomes the latest
casualty of Vancouver's short-term memory in a climate where arts,
history and culture are left to fend for themselves. 

To prevent demolition, the Save the Kogawa House Committee is seeking
community support and volunteers in Vancouver and across Canada in its
drive to convert the house into a major writers centre. The Committee
is also asking supporters to email the Vancouver City Council at
mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca urging Mayor Campbell and City Councillors
to prevent the demolition of the Kogawa House.

 

–30–

Photo credits:

The attached Dan Toulgoet Kogawa House_1519 Vancouver Courier 9 28
05.jpg of Joy Kogawa in front of her childhood home can be used by both
non-profit organizations and commercial media. The photo credit must
be: “Photo-Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier”.
The photographer can be contacted at 604-630 3514 or at dtoulgoet@vancourier.com
The Don Montgomery 3.jpg can be used by non-profit organizations. The
photo credit must be “Photo: © 2005 Don Montgomery”. Commercial media
are asked to contact Don Montgomery at 604-878 6888 or
don@asiancanadian.net

For further information contact:

Ann-Marie Metten, Vancouver Co-ordinator, Save Kogawa House Committee 
604-263 6586; ametten@telus.net

Todd Wong, Vancouver Committee spokesperson
604-240-7090; toddwcan@yahoo.com
 
Anton Wagner, Committee Chair
416-863-1209; awagner@yorku.ca

Gerry McGeough, Senior Heritage Planner, Planning Department, City of  Vancouver
604-873-7091; gerry.mcgeough@vancouver.ca

Diane Switzer, Executive Director, Vancouver Heritage Foundation 604-264-9642; diane@vancouverheritagefoundation.org

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