Vancouver’s Secret Garden Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Comments 1 by John Biehler

As you may know, it is Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary this year. It is also the 25th Anniversary of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which is located in the heart of Chinatown.

Mike Harcourt @ Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese GardenAlthough the Garden has been around since 1986, many people have never visited. In some ways, it is Vancouver’s secret garden.

To help celebrate the special occasion, the Garden recently held a special ‘secret’ tour of the grounds and a few special surrounding businesses.

We started off with a reception inside the Gardens with some special guests, Mike Harcourt, who was mayor of Vancouver back in 1986 (as well as former Premier of BC) when the Gardens opened and Joe Wai, the renowned local architect behind the project. Both men described some of the challenges of getting the Gardens built and some interesting tidbits of how it all came together in the end.

The reception was followed with a lantern-lit tour of the Gardens. I’d only ever been inside during the day so it was pretty cool to see the place lit up on such a perfectly clear (and dry) evening.

Lanterns @ Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

When the Gardens were originally built, there were no high-rises around the area, unlike now. Being inside the Gardens and seeing the buildings outside adds to the secret feeling the place evokes.

We then headed out into the night air just around the corner for tour of the spectacular penthouse of The Keefer Suites and a cocktail reception hosted by Danielle Tatarin (bar manager @ The Keefer Bar) served from her wonderful apocrathy cart.

The Penthouse @ The Keefer

My favourite cocktail was the Dragonfly (gin, Pearl Sake, ginger, lemon and Magnolia Bark).

The penthouse has been host to many famous visitors and was recently used as the apartment for Chris Pine’s character in the upcoming movie, This Means War. It features an amazing rooftop pool which can be seen from below inside the main hall of the penthouse as a stunning skylight:

The Penthouse @ The Keefer
The Penthouse @ The Keefer The Penthouse @ The Keefer

After a few tasty cocktails, we headed up the street for dinner at Bao-Bei – one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants according to EnRoute Magazine, where we had a wonderful family-style meal.

We then headed back to The Keefer Bar for the Sweet Soul Burlesque show, a regular event every Thursday night.

Sweet Soul Burlesque @ the Keefer Sweet Soul Burlesque @ the Keefer

I had the pleasure of photographing the troop previously and their latest show didn’t disappoint, especially in the intimate setting of The Keefer. More photos from the show can be found on my Flickr stream.

Read more about upcoming activities in and around Chinatown as part of the 2011 Chinese New Year celebrations.

John is an avid photographer, gadget geek and traveller. You can find him on Twitter and at where he discusses photography and all sorts of technology. All photos in this post were taken by John.

Disclosure: Activities, services and dining experiences during the tour were compliments of businesses mentioned.

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1 Comment  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Steph :)Saturday, February 5th, 2011 — 12:49am PST

    I thought this post was about the Secret Garden Tea Company and was disappointed that it wasn’t but interesting to read about the garden.

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