Posts Tagged ‘Nora Hendrix’

The Jimi Hendrix connection & the district of Strathcona

Friday, May 10th, 2013

There has been a lot of interest in the local media as of late on the subject of Multiculturalism and, in particular, the ethnic diversity of the populations that reside in Vancouver. It seems apparent that the so called majorities that the articles are talking about can be assumed to be of Caucasian decent, however, the reason these articles are being created suggest that the Caucasian populous are actually the absolute minority. When you come to visit Vancouver you will immediately notice that it truly is a very diverse city, the differing ethnicity of people all around you is very clear to see, this has always been the case in Vancouver and such its history is very rich and varied.

The subject of multiculturalism and political correctness can be left for discussions over a coffee or a beer among yourselves, it does however lead us onto some interesting history regarding the area of Strathcona and a certain influential musician by the name of Jimi Hendrix.

JIMI HENDRIX, HOGANS ALLEY & STRATHCONA
Many of you will have heard of Jimi Hendrix and will know that he hailed from the Seattle area which is not too far away from us just South of the Border – along with many other very famous musicians that have over time have been extremely influential on the musical scene. However…did you know that he actually spent some of his childhood growing up in an area not too far from Main Street Station called Strathcona and more specifically an area known as Hogan’s Alley.

Hogan’s Alley was a Neighbourhood area that was predominantly made up by the Black community and Jimi Hendrix was one person who resided there, he went to school here as a young boy and eventually started to begin his journey into music learning his trade in the area.
The alley itself now has Plaque in commemoration to the once vibrant community that has all but vanished and transformed into Chinatown and The Strathcona district. A predominant Asian and specifically Chinese community, Strathcona is also one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city – and it really does show, you can walk around and see the differing colours, shapes and sizes of the property and can imagine the battles between the locals, urban planners, and ultimately, the influence and evolution of Gentrification that the locals have had to endure over the years.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Black community started to be moved on by urban planners and this has been a bone of contention over the years due to the manner of how this happened.
The Plaque in the area has been a long time coming and as Vancouver has well over 20,000 black people here it is right that this community is not forgotten like many others who are celebrated here.

JIMI HENDRIX SHRINE
Yesterday, a friend and myself decided to take a walk along Main Street towards Chinatown, the Downtown Eastside and Gastown and along the way we decided to stop by the small building that is now the Jimi Hendrix Shrine.

This is a true little gem and is well worth a visit, it is also quite close to the Main Street Station Bus and Train terminals, you just need to walk 2 blocks North along Main St under the Georgia Viaduct, which is also the southern gateway to Chinatown. Here you will see a building and a sign that has guitar murals painted on the side of it – follow the building East and the little shrine is there.

We walked in and was met by a really nice guy called Lewis who is one of a few handful of volunteers that help run the shrine and its cute little garden out back. Inside the Shrine, there are pictures, guitars and some information on Jimi’s history in the neighbourhood and there are also his Lyrics to his very well known songs on the wall.

There is also some great information regarding a famous Restaurant called Vie’s Chicken and SteakHouse which was located right by where the Shrine now stands and is part of folklore on Hogan’s Alley. It was here at Vie’s that Jimi’s grandmother Nora worked and as Jimi got older he would learn to play here at after hours. Vie’s operated between the 1920s through to the 1970s and was a major hangout for very famous Black Stars of the day such as Nat king Cole.

The site of where the shrine is where a letter was found to be written by Jimi and addressed to Nora Hendrix, at 209 Union St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The now owner of the Shrine followed his curiosity to see the address only to find a dilapidated shed on that location – it was then discovered that this was the former location of Vie’s kitchen and was then decided that a special memorial should be created – and the rest as they say is history!

We hope that you found something from this blog and will take a small trip to the Shrine while you are checking out the Chinatown area.