For immediate release
November 3, 2005
120 days given to Kogawa House, as demolition timeline extended
This afternoon Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to grant an
unprecedented 120-day delay of demolition for 1450 West 64th Avenue,
the childhood home of author Joy Kogawa.
The present home owner bought the house in 2003, unaware that the Save
Kogawa Homestead committee was trying to raise funds to turn the house
into a writers’ retreat. The owner has now decided to demolish and
rebuild on the site, prompting the now renamed Save Kogawa House
committee to action, soliciting support from writing and arts
organizations across the country.
Gerry McGeough, senior heritage planner in the Vancouver City Planning
Department, was instrumental in bringing the motion before city
council. He stated that the 1915 house could be registered as Class A
heritage because of its cultural value and local and national
Todd Wong and Ann-Marie Metten led the committee’s presentation to
council, with additional presentations from Diane Switzer of the
Vancouver Heritage Foundation, Heather Redfern of the Alliance for Arts
and Culture, and Marion Quednau of the Writers’ Union of Canada,
demonstrating the wide local and national support across Canada to
preserve the house,
Kogawa, received the Order of Canada in 1986 and her novel Obasan is
school curriculum across Canada and studied around the world. The novel
was also chosen as the Vancouver Public Library’s One Book One
Vancouver selection for 2005. An operatic adaptation of the children’s
story, Naomi’s Road, is now touring BC schools with the Vancouver Opera
in the Schools program.
Joy Kogawa arrived via car and ferry from a performance of Naomi’s Road
in Ucuelet, BC, just in time to read from her novel Obasan. Kogawa had
only left City Hall on Tuesday, November 1st, which had been proclaimed
“Obasan Cherry Tree Day”, as a graft from the cherry tree from Kogawa’s
childhood home was planted at City Hall.
Council was so moved by the presentation that Councillor Raymond Louie
immediately challenged other councillors to pull out their wallets and
match his $100 donation. Councillor Ellen Woodsworth wrote an
equivalent cheque and said council would challenge other city councils
to match their donations as well. At the end of the meeting, the
committee walked out of council chambers $540 richer.
An estimated $750,000 is needed to purchase the house from the owner at
“fair market value.” McGeough has been mediating with the house owner
and the Save Kogawa House committee, and the 120-day delay will give
the committee time to fundraise this amount.
Charitable donations can be made online through the Vancouver Heritage Foundation website at http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/Kogawa.html.
To celebrate this milestone in the Save Kogawa House campaign, a
performance of the opera Naomi’s Road by the Vancouver Opera Touring
Ensemble will be presented free to the public on November 12 at 2 pm.
It will take place in the Alice MacKay Room of the Vancouver Public
Library downtown. Special guest musician is Harry Aoki, who was
interned at age 20.
For further information contact:
Ann-Marie Metten, Save Kogawa House Committee Vancouver Coordinator
Todd Wong, Vancouver Committee spokesperson
Anton Wagner, Committee Chair
Gerry McGeough, Senior Heritage Planner, Planning
Department, City of Vancouver
Diane Switzer, Executive Director, Vancouver Heritage Foundation