Opening Doors in Vancouver's East End: Strathcona

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Daphne Marlatt, Carole Itter
Harbour Publishing Company, Limited, Apr 1, 2011 - History - 239 pages
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"There was nothing but parties in Hogan's Alley," a black musician named Austin Phillips reminisced in 1977, "Night time, anytime, and Sundays all day. You could go by at 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning and you could hear the juke boxes going, you hear somebody hammering on the piano, playing the guitar, or hear somebody fighting."

The black ghetto of Hogan's Alley was just one of the ethnic neighbourhoods that made the historic Strathcona district the most cosmopolitan and colourful quarter in Vancouver for over a hundred years. Home to Chinatown, Japantown, the Loggers' Skid Row and Little Italy among others, it had been the city's first residential neighbourhood but became the refuge of the city's working and immigrant classes when better-off Vancouverites migrated westward around 1900. By the 1950s planners had declared it a slum slated for demolition, but in the 1960s residents united in a spirited defense that guaranteed Strathcona's survival and revolutionized city planning across Canada.

It had long been known that some of Vancouver's best stories lurked behind the closed doors of the Strathcona district (rock legend Jimi Hendrix spent part of his childhood living there with his grandmother, who is interviewed in this book.) Between 1977 and 1978, Strathcona writers Daphne Marlatt and Carole Itter undertook to open those doors and collect 50 oral histories representing the best of the stories. First published in 1979 as a double issue of the journal Sound Heritage, Opening Doors has been celebrated as one of the best books about Vancouver you couldn't obtain for love nor money. To help mark Vancouver's 125th Anniversary, Harbour is republishing this underground classic as a Raincoast Monograph richly illustrated with vintage photographs.

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About the author (2011)

Daphne Marlatt was born July 11, 1942, in Melbourne, Australia. She spent her early childhood in Malaysia and then migrated to Vancouver in 1951. She attended University of British Columbia where she received a Bachelor of Science degree. She completed her MA in Comparative Literature at Indiana University and then received and LL.D. from the University of Western Ontario. Although she is most prominent for her poetry, she has also published fiction and non-fiction. Her published works include Rings, Vancouver Poems, Here & There, How Hug a Stone, Touch to My Tongue, Ana Historic and Two Women in a Birth. She is the recipient of the Brissenden Award and the Macmillan Award for Writing. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC.

Carole Itter is an award-winning sculptor and author. Her writing has been featured in various anthologies and literary magazines including in Room of One's Own and Brick.

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