John Atkin is a civic historian, author, and heritage consultant.
John has explored Vancouver like few others have, and offers an interesting and offbeat insight to the city’s architecture, history and neighbourhoods through his walking tours, books, and blog.
John curated and designed the Vancouver Museum’s City Light: Neon in Vancouver exhibition in 1999/2000, he is the author of the 2008 Chinatown Lighting Strategy and co-author, with Jeannette Hlavach, on the successful 2010 application for Chinatown’s National Historic District status. He wrote the City of Vancouver’s successful nomination for the 2012 Lee Kuan Yee World City prize presented by the government of Singapore, and the successful nomination of the City of Vancouver for the inaugural Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation.
He regularly consults on heritage buildings, writing Statements of Significance, conservation plans and heritage assessments. John currently chairs the City of Vancouver’s Civic Asset Naming Committee, sits on the board of the Friends of the Vancouver Archives, and currently chairs the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC. John is honoured to sit on the City’s recently announced Historical Discrimination Against People of Chinese Descent Advisory Committee.
Exploring and understanding Chinatown is important because it is one of the founding communities of the settler culture of Vancouver and Chinatown itself is an incredibly important district just for the role it is played in the terminal city but at the same time it is a very unique space. There are very few Chinatowns left in North America that are truly Chinatowns and here we have that confluence of architecture and society buildings, we have the food, we have the language, – it is all there as a cultural landscape.
It is a part of the history of the city that needs to be explored and illuminated so people care so we don’t lose Chinatown.