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Yue Shan Society

Yue Shan Society sign

A Native-Place Organization of Sam Yap (Three-County) People in Canada

The Yue Shan Society is a native-place association created by people from Panyu, one of the three counties known as Sam Yap (the other two counties are Nanhai and Shunde). The three counties are located near Canton, share one Cantonese dialect and sent out one of the largest groups of early emigrants from China to North America. The Yue Shan Society initially offered immigrants fellowship and practical services such as banking, letter-writing and translation. It also constructed and maintained a building at the Chinese Cemetery to store the bones of Chinese residents who had died in Canada. Every seven years, the bones would be shipped back to the communities of origin in China.

This sign displays the club’s full name, Yue Shan Cheung Hao Tong. Below the sign are receipts for donations to the society (Photo by Robert Amos, 2008).

This sign displays the club’s full name, Yue Shan Cheung Hao Tong. Below the sign are receipts for donations to the society (Photo by Robert Amos, 2008).

With the growing Chinese population in Vancouver, the headquarters of the Yue Shan Society moved to that city, and in 1961, a branch of the society was re-established in Victoria. Currently, the association rents a meeting room at 553 Fisgard Street, in the second storey of the Loo Tai Cho Building on the eastern side of Fan Tan Alley. A plaque in the meeting hall indicates that the smaller Sam Yap Society also meets there, serving as the headquarters of immigrants from the aforementioned three counties. Visitors to the meeting hall enjoy mahjong, dominoes, Chinese chess, conversation, coffee and television. Members of the Yue Shan Society also participate in seasonal activities such as visiting the Chinese Cemetery during the Qing Ming festival in April and celebrating the Yu Len Festival in July, and the Moon Festival in August.

By Chen and Yang

Interview with the Yue Shan Society

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Mahjong is a popular game in the Yue Shan Society meeting hall. The photo shows the entrance to the hall with banners and photographs on the wall behind mahjong tables (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).
Mahjong is a popular game in the Yue Shan Society meeting hall. The photo is a close up of mahjong tiles scattered on a table (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).

Mahjong is a popular game in the Yue Shan Society meeting hall. The photo on the left shows the entrance to the hall with banners and photographs on the wall behind mahjong tables, and the photo on the right is a close up of mahjong tiles scattered on a table (Photos by Charles Yang, June 2011).

A Chinese chess game in the Yue Shan Society meeting room (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).

A Chinese chess game in the Yue Shan Society meeting room (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).

Photos of the 1997 Victoria Mahjong Tournament hosted by the Yue Shan Society (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).

Photos of the 1997 Victoria Mahjong Tournament hosted by the Yue Shan Society (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).


Sources

Amos, Robert and Kileasa Wong. Inside Chinatown: Ancient Culture in a New World. Victoria: TouchWood Editions, 2009.

Lai, David Chuenyan. Chinese Community Leadership: Case Study of Victoria in Canada. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 2010.

Lai, David Chuenyan. The Forbidden City within Victoria: Myth, Symbol and Streetscape of Canada’s Earliest Chinatown. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 1991.

“Loo Tai Cho Building.” Canada’s Historic Places. http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=14925&pid=0 (accessed 3 January 2013).

Wickberg, Edgar, ed. From China to Canada: A History of the Chinese Communities in Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982).