The Jimi Hendirx Shrine, one of Vancouver’s most fascinating urban curiosities, is now open for summer. Why does the American musician have a Vancouver place of worship? Jimi’s grandmother Nora Hendrix lived in Vancouver’s often overlooked African-American community around Hogan’s Alley in Strathcona. During his boyhood, Jimi spent many summers in Hogan’s Alley with Nora, who owned the former Vie’s Chicken and Steakhouse where the shrine is located.
Vie’s was much more than a watering hole; it was the venue for visiting African American performers such as Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. The artists would eat at Vie’s after concerts. Legend has it that Jimi and his cousins would stay up late helping their grandmother serve these famous musicians.
I live around the corner from the shrine at Main and Union in Strathcona and I get a rush every time I follow the graffiti trail of electric guitars to the red metal cage that houses all things Jimi.
The shrine doesn’t have museum-level of history inside, but the effort to commemorate Hendrix and the neighbourhood history makes it worth the visit. You’ll find old photos and memorabilia of Jimi Hendrix and family as well as of Hogan’s Alley. It’s admission by donation; if you’re really into it, you can also rent the shrine to host private events.
After being discharged from the Army, Jimi returned to Vancouver during the winter of 1962- 1963 (age 20) to practice his music. He even played shows on Granville Street.
Visiting the Hendrix shrine and the nearby Jimi Hendrix mural at 1030 East Cordova Street on foot is a great way to discover a hidden slice of Vancouver urban history and the growing restaurant and retail scene along Union Street between Main and Gore.
The Vancouver Jimi Hendrix Shrine is open from June to September 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm Monday – Saturday.
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