Meet James Johnstone: house geneaologist

Meet James Johnstone: house geneaologist

I first met James Johnstone at the Chinese Canadian History Fair organized by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, and held the Vancouver Museum.  It was January 2005, and nobody expected that in one year's time Chinese Canadian pioneers who paid the head tax would be front page news.

James created a geneaology for Kogawa House at 1450 West 64th Ave. which he presented to me just  before I walked into Vancouver City Council chambers on November 3rd to ask City Council to delay processing the demolition permet for the house.  It was a fascinating look at immigration patterns for the Marpole neighborhood, by peeking at the list of inhabitants of one of the oldest homes still surviving in Marpole.

James sent me this update on his activities which include researching Chinese and Japanese homes in Vancouver:

As promised, here is an e-mail concerning my recent interview with Fanny Kiefer for the Studio 4 Show on Shaw Cable. The show aired on Monday, June 10th. I was interviewed for 30 minutes on my work as a house genealogist, talking about how the business started out as a hobby when I moved from an apartment in the West End to an old house in the East End (1036 Odlum Drive) in 1995.

Our conversation traced my move to the rowhouse in the 700-block of Hawks Avenue in 2000 and touched on a number of highlights out of the over 500 houses I have researched in Vancouver and New Westminster, including the Nora Hendrix House at 827 East Georgia, the Robert Blair house at 1550 Harwood, the Andrew E. Lees house at 909 Richards, and the Obasan (Joy Kogawa) House on West 64th.

As always, I am very interested in hearing from people who lived in the old East End Strathcona/Grandview Woodland) who may have photos of the old houses and the people who lived in them for a community history mapping website I am working on. In particular, I am looking for pictures of houses that have been demolished or streetscapes that have been lost, so that the lost parts of the neighbourhood (Hogan's Alley, Japantown, those blocks that were lost to recreate MacLean Park, etc.) can be recreated in virtual reality.

I am also wanting to hear from Chinese and Japanese families who lived in the neighbourhood during the times when the city directories failed to properly represent the Chinese and Japanese families who lived in the neighbourhood, labelling addresses, “Chinese” or “Japanese” for decades. I would love to be able to fill in as many blanks in the record as possible.

Thanks again.


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