The Historic Joy Kogawa House is a modest bungalow built in 1912. It has national significance as a symbol of the racial discrimination experienced by Japanese-Canadians as a consequence of World War II. The house is one of a small number of known and documented residences in Vancouver that have been traced back to ownership by a Japanese-Canadian family, confiscated by the Canadian Government and sold without the owner’s permission.
Additionally, the house is of cultural and heritage significance since it is the childhood home of renowned Canadian author Joy Kogawa (nee Nakayama). Joy Kogawa (born 1935) lived in the house with her family between 1937 and 1942 until they were removed as a part of the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. The house is featured prominently in several of Kogawa’s books, including the award-winning novel Obasan which recalls the experience of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War based on Joy’s experiences during her childhood. Joy Kogawa was awarded the Order of Canada in 1986.
Over the years, the house changed hands several times. In 2003, the property was purchased by a landowner who renovated portions of the house. This landowner then applied for a demolition permit from the City of Vancouver in late 2005. Due to growing public pressure and the efforts of the Save Kogawa House Committee, a stay of demolition was granted to allow for The Land Conservancy and others to raise the funds needed to purchase the house. After a successful campaign that saw donations from over 500 people from around the world, TLC became owner of the Kogawa House in 2006. TLC has had caretakers living in the house for security and maintenance purposes. As of 2012, TLC holds a mortgage for $102,000 on the Historic Joy Kogawa House.
The ongoing vision for the Historic Joy Kogawa House is for it to stand as a literary landmark and symbol of hope, healing and reconciliation for all Canadians. Specifically, it is the intention of TLC and the Historic Kogawa House Society (previously the Save Kogawa House Committee) to operate the property as a writers-in-residence site with regular events and workshops.
Visit the Historic Kogawa House Society’s website for more information about the writer-in-residence and various public events. www.kogawahouse.com.