Constructed in 1910, the Hon Hsing Building is an early example of a distinct Chinatown architectural style: vertical proportions; four storeys high (some have only three), with one or more of the upper floors featuring recessed balconies and building-wide glazing facing the street.
The Hong Hsing Building was built to the designs by a European-Canadian architect, R.J. MacDonald, one year after the construction of the prototype — Chinese Benevolent Association Building (1909). This building design presents a significant shift away from the architectural styles of Vancouver’s commercial buildings toward a more distinctly ‘Chinese’ form. This form would later come to be identified with Chinatown. The later addition of a metal cornice in 1914 was a distinguishing character of the building’s appearance.
The Hon Hsing Athletic Club of Vancouver was founded in 1939 by the Wongs Benevolent Association (formerly the Wong Wun Sun Society and the Wong Kung Har Tong Society). It was open to all Chinese-Canadians regardless of surname to raising funds through Chinese lion dancing to help with the war efforts in China.
The Club was named after a brave general from China’s fabled ‘Three Kingdoms period’ named General Hon Hsing who is remembered for caring for his soldiers despite their different surnames and backgrounds.
Hong Hsing Athletic Club was the first school to offer Chinese martial arts classes in Canada. It is an important example of a clan-based organization offering and directing activities for young people. Today, the Club is a volunteer organization committed to passing Chinese culture and traditions on to the next generation of Canadian youth.