A Living Tradition: A Cultural Journey Through Vancouver's Chinatown (55+)

Vancouver’s Chinatown was recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2011. Its distinctive architectural features, streetscape, garden spaces and connection to the history of Chinese immigrants make the neighbourhood one of Canada’s most significant urban heritage sites.

In our journey—both literal and figurative—through Chinatown, we will explore the culture and growth of the Chinese community in Vancouver. We’ll look at current social and urban issues like gentrification, transportation, zoning and the ongoing efforts to revitalize Chinatown. We’ll experience some of the community’s living traditions, learn some Cantonese phrases and walk through the neighbourhood to deepen our understanding of the cultural uniqueness of Chinatown.

Note: This course includes classes at SFU’s Vancouver campus (Harbour Centre) and Chinatown House (188 East Pender Street), as well as three walking tours of Chinatown.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver, Chinatown House 6 Christine Wong $120.00 0 Join Waitlist

What will I learn?

Week 1: A historical exploration

Let’s take a step back in time! We will explore the growth and evolution of Chinese communities in Vancouver, as well as the stories of Chinese immigrants.
Class location: Harbour Centre

Week 2: A glimpse of key places

We will meet at Chinatown House and draft a map of “must-see” spots in Vancouver’s Chinatown. We will visit iconic structures such as the Millennium Gate, the Monument to Canadian-Chinese veterans, the Sam Kee Building and various benevolent associations.
Class location: Chinatown House, walking tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown

Week 3: An overview of today’s Chinatown

We will recap the week 2 walking tour and we’ll learn what events take place in the vibrant and unique Chinatown.
Class location: Harbour Centre

Week 4: A Cantonese experience

Cantonese is the main language spoken in the district, so we’ll spend some time learning some survival Cantonese phrases. We’ll discover real-life stories of Chinatown in a fun way, and also explore Chinese tea, dim sum, BBQ stores, grocery shops and some traditional Chinese businesses.
Class location: Chinatown House, walking tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown

Week 5: A cultural reflection

We’ll visit Dr. Sun Yat- Sen Park and we will endeavor to unfold the philosophic and artistic traditions of Chinese culture.
Class location: Chinatown House, walking tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown

Week 6: A living tradition

Tradition is not just found in the past, it is living. We will explore traditions and rethink how they make sense to us.
Class location: Harbour Centre

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussions
  • Walking tours
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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