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Welcome to Victoria’s Chinatown, a major gateway to the past and present of Chinese Canadians! Our website will introduce you to Chinatown through selected photos, maps, archives, family documents, oral histories and other data. If you are familiar with Victoria, we invite you to take the “Chinatown Quiz” and answer 15 questions about the history, geography, landmarks, streets, organizations and people in the local Chinatown. If you have never visited Victoria’s Chinatown, we suggest that you enter the website through thematic portals or use the menu above to learn about streets, Chinatown in art, organizations and individuals.

Gate of Harmonious Interest Victoria by Robert Amos

Gate of Harmonious Interest Victoria Robert Amos

This Chinatown, located in Victoria, British Columbia, is a historical gateway to the Chinese in Canada because it was once the major entry port for Asian immigration to British North America, and later to Canada. From the late 1850s to the 1860s, it was the primary springboard for several thousand Chinese gold miners heading to the Fraser River valley and the Cariboo, and in the 1880s it was the main entry point for the estimated 15,000 Chinese builders of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is the oldest Chinatown in Canadian history, and the earliest origin of Chinese people in the Canadian “land of promises.”

This Chinatown is also a major gateway to the development of Chinese communities in Canada. From the late nineteenth century to the first decade of the twentieth century, it was the largest Chinese settlement in Canada. Meanwhile, its merchant networks supplied new labourers, ethnic goods, and homeland news to numerous Chinese immigrant communities across the gold mines of British Columbia and along the Canadian Pacific Railway. In this Chinatown, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, the Hongmen Society (later called the Chinese Freemasons), and many clan and county associations served as early headquarters of Chinese communities across Canada.

This Chinatown is an especially important gateway to the most significant trend of Chinese Canadian life. Although the city of Victoria and the provincial legislature located in this city were once the major forces behind the head tax and other anti-Chinese laws in Canada, the local Chinatown was at the forefront of Chinese anti-racism. It also led Chinese engagements with Canadian economic, social and political spheres in spite of mounting racist barriers up to the mid-twentieth century. From the early twentieth century to the present, it was the birthplace of Chinese-Canadian leaders in municipal, provincial, federal, and international politics. Moreover, as early as 1899, this Chinatown produced the first global Chinese political organization, the Chinese Empire Reform Association, and it also provided crucial support to the revolutionary creation of Republican China in 1911. In this sense, this Chinatown is also a gateway to Canada’s engagement in the globalized politics of the transpacific world.