Exploring Hogan’s Alley: The Rich Tapestry of Vancouver’s Black History

  14 February 2024

As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to explore the rich tapestry of Black experiences woven into the fabric of Canadian history. One such invaluable piece of this narrative is Hogan’s Alley, a vibrant community that once thrived in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood. Recently, staff and directors from CHF BC, BCNPHA and CHF Canada had the privilege of embarking on a journey through Vancouver’s past as they toured Hogan’s Alley with Lama Mugabo, a local historian deeply connected to the area and founding member of  Hogan’s Alley Society. 

The Importance of Hogan’s Alley for Black culture and community life

Hogan’s Alley, adjacent to Vancouver’s Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhood, was once a bustling hub of Black culture and community life. 

During our tour, Mr. Mugabo guided us through the remnants of Hogan’s Alley, painting a vivid picture of the extraordinary tapestry of a once vibrant community. We learned about the bustling cultural institutions that once thrived here, such as Vie’s Chicken and Steak House, a legendary eatery that served as a gathering place for residents and visitors alike. 

As we continued our walk, we stopped at the site of the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel, a cornerstone of spiritual life for the Black Community in Vancouver. Mr. Mugabo recounted its history as a place of worship, and a central gathering for social events and community organizing.  The church played a central role in fostering unity and empowerment among its Black residents.

One particularly poignant stop was the site of Nora Hendrix’s home, grandmother to the iconic Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix, a pillar of the community, worked tirelessly at Vie’s and remained a steadfast presence even as urban renewal efforts threatened to erase Hogan’s Alley from the map. 

Perhaps most importantly, our tour with Mugabo provided an opportunity for reflection on the enduring legacy of Hogan’s Alley. While much of the physical landscape has been altered by urban development projects over the years, we can be hopeful for the revitalization and reimagination of the neighbourhood through the leadership of the Black community.

Reflecting on Black History in Vancouver

In commemorating Black History Month, it’s essential not only to celebrate the achievements of Black individuals but also to acknowledge the struggles and hardships they have overcome. Hogan’s Alley serves as a reminder of the resilience, creativity, and community spirit that have characterized the Black experience in Canada.

As we reflect on our experience in Hogan’s Alley, we are reminded of the importance of preserving and honoring Black history and those of other racialized communities in Vancouver and beyond.

At CHF BC, we remain committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We seek to amplify voices of our members, friends, and partners so that inclusivity becomes the norm in our world. As we continue our journey through Black History Month and beyond, let us carry forward the lessons learned from Hogan’s Alley, amplify the voices of Black Canadians and work towards a future where justice, equity and solidarity prevail.