Columbia Street United Church (Vancouver, BC)

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Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Columbia Street United Church (Vancouver, BC)

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Columbia Street Mission

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Fairview United Church

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Description area

Dates of existence



Columbia Street United Church was originally known as the Fairview Mission, the second of two Japanese Methodist missions in Vancouver (the first being Powell Street Methodist Church, established 1896). Japanese ministry began in the Fairview neighbourhood in 1921. The Woman’s Missionary Society (WMS) started a Sunday school there in 1923, with language school conducted under the supervision of the Rev. Yoshimitsu Akagawa. After Church Union, members of the Powell Street United Church living in Vancouver's Fairview neighbourhood raised enough money, along with a Home Missions grant, to construct a church building in 1928 at the corner of Columbia Street and West 6th Avenue. The Rev. Kosaburo Shimizu served as its first minister. Congregational life and mission flourished until Japanese Canadians were evacuated from the coast in 1942.

After evacuation, the Board of Missions of the United Church was entrusted with care of the properties of the two Japanese United Churches, and housed the personal belongings of the congregations. The Fairview building was used by First United Church, St. Giles United Church, and the WMS as storage. In 1949, the building was renovated, and a reopening service was held Nov. 27, 1949, with a view to welcoming the Japanese returning to the coast. At that point, the congregation’s name was changed Columbia Street United Church, with the Rev. George Turpin serving as minister.

The congregation began holding dual services, starting on March 13, 1955, with the Rev. William Van Druten serving in the morning, and the Rev. Gordon Imai in the evening for the Nisei (English-speaking Japanese) congregation. By 1958, both Nisei and Issei (Japanese speaking) were worshipping in the Columbia Street church under the leadership of Rev. Tadashi Mitsui. In 1962, the Japanese congregations moved to Renfrew United Church. Following their departure, Columbia Street United Church struggled financially, and ultimately disbanded in 1969. From 1969 to 1977, the building was rented out to various social groups, until it was sold and demolished in 1977.


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Created August 30, 2012


  • English



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