How important is saving Kogawa House?  What other literary landmarks are in Vancouver?

Alan Twigg, author and publisher of BC Book World, says that Vancouver only really has one literary landmark, and that one was controversial and created under protest – the gravesite of poet Pauline Johnson. Ann-Marie Metten was talking with the author of First Invaders: the literary origins of British Columbia and Aboriginality which detail the first writings about British Columbia.

If we can save and preserve the Kogawa Homestead, then we have the real-life equivalent of the fictional Anne of Green Gables House. ( With the new Vancouver Opera creation of Naomi’s Road, then we now have the West Coast equivalent of the ever-popular Anne of Green Gables musical.

The Save the Kogawa Homestead Committee would like to preserve the former Kogawa House as a writer’s retreat, where the house could serve as a temporary home for visiting writers, immersing themselves in multicultural Vancouver, while providing a historic landmark to the thousands of Japanese Canadians who once made up the fishing community of Marpole neighborhood, but were uprooted from their homes, branded as enemy aliens, and interned at re-location camps away from the Pacific Coast.

There are a few historic houses preserved in BC. Our history is still young, and many of our residents are immigrants with little knowledge of BC’s history.

Only a small handful of the homes of Canada’s greatest Canadians or writers are preserved or acknowledged.  Pierre Berton was born in a cottage in Dawson City, Yukon. Berton spent $50,000 to buy the house to donate it to the Dawson City community where it is now a historic landmark known as Berton House.

Other BC homes have been turned into historic landmarks or museums.  But none that I know of are by writers, nor homes that were confiscated from Japanese Canadians during World War 2. In addition to becoming a writers’ retreat, Kogawa House would also represent the tragedy of the upheaval and internment of the Japanese-Canadian community and how we overcome our prejudices by recognizing it and turning it into an important community landmark.

Haig-Brown House Education Centre
2250 Campbell River Road,
Campbell River
B.C. V9W 4N7

Rodde House Preservation Society
1415 Barclay Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6G 1J6
(604) 684-7040

Emily Carr House
207 Government Street
B.C. V8V 2K3
Telephone: (250) 383-5843
Fax: (250) 356-7796

Irving House
302 Royal Avenue,
New Westminster
(604) 521-7656