The hall was built in the 1920s as a gathering place for the Japanese community. (Special to The News)

The hall was built in the 1920s as a gathering place for the Japanese community. (Special to The News)

Heritage Japanese Meeting Hall starts new life as a child care centre

Now used as a church, site will be developed for six houses

A heritage building that has been serving as a Pitt Meadows church will soon enter a new life as a childcare space.

Pastor Gary MacDonald turned over the keys for the Japanese Canadian Meeting Hall to developer Harjit Deol on Monday.

The 1.1 acre site will be developed for six single family residences. The hall, which is listed in the Canadian Register of Historic Places, will become a daycare. The hall cannot be changed without a heritage alteration permit being issued by the city.

For the past 40 years it has been a place of worship for the Community of Christ Church Ridge Meadows congregation, but MacDonald said the congregation has dwindled to just 12 to 15 regulars in attendance. Many are aged, some are leaving the community, and they voted unanimously to sell the property.

Ed Salahub was the pastor at the Community of Christ Church in Pitt Meadows for 21 years, and attended services there for about four decades.

“This has been a wonderful community,” he said. “The church has served the community, and been served by the community as well.”

He said he has good memories of the congregation, which swelled to as many as 60 regulars at its peak, and how they would support the food bank, hold neighbourhood bazaars and other activities.

Salahub said the heritage building is functional, but definitely from another era.

The Pitt Meadows Japanese Canadian Farmers’ Association built the hall at 19089 Advent Road in the 1920s, to serve as a meeting hall and social centre for Japanese Canadians in the area.

Prior to the Second World War, Japanese families were prominent in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. Early settlers developed berry farms and greenhouses, and made up almost one-third of the population. Children would attend school at the hall, to learn the Japanese language.

READ ALSO: Finding their place in Maple Ridge history

War broke out in 1941, and the building was expropriated by the Canadian government in 1942. The Japanese people were interned during the war, and generally did not return to Pitt Meadows after the war. The hall was purchased and used as a Catholic church.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows Japanese Meeting Hall and Haney chosen as historic places

MacDonald said the proceeds from the sale will stay with the Community of Christ to help financially support other congregations.

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Gary MacDonald (right) presents the keys to the hall to developer Harjit Deol. (Special to The News)

Gary MacDonald (right) presents the keys to the hall to developer Harjit Deol. (Special to The News)

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