Victoria’s Chinatown gateway

Browse this collectionM00422 Chinatown Gate

This digital exhibit originates with a web site, Victoria’s Chinatown: A Gateway to the Past and Present of Chinese Canadians (, a partnership project between the Asian Canadian Working Group at the University of Victoria and community partners including the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, the Chinese Public School, and the McPherson Library. 

Chinatown was an integral part of Victoria from before Confederation. Beginning in 1858 when thousands of prospectors descended on the city as part of the Fraser River gold rush, Chinese newcomers began to settle in Canada’s original Pacific gateway. Settlement expanded as labourers who helped build the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s came back to the city. These were hard times, work was scarce and racism was a constant problem as the imposition of a head-tax on Chinese immigrants in 1885 illustrates. Faced with these challenges, people in the community forged a myriad of associations based on clan and regional origins.

The exhibit contains a broad range of photographs and documents that graphically captures the history of Victoria’s Chinatown, the oldest in Canada. The images collected portray life in Chinatown and the broader community from its earliest days to the present.

Image of Chinatown Gate courtesy City of Victoria Archives, M00422

Highlights of the Collection:

  • Historic Landmarks in Chinatown and the Surrounding Area
    • Arches constructed in Chinatown to welcome visiting dignitaries
    • Chinese Theatres
    • Chinese Public School
    • Harling Point Cemetery
  • Street Scenes Past and Present
    • Fisgard Street, the heart of Chinatown
    • Fan Tan Alley
    • Cormorant Street
  • People and Chinatown
    • Sun Yat-sen and Victoria’s Chinatown
    • Lee Mong Kow, an interpreter and educator
    • Victoria Chung, medical missionary to China
    • Chan Dun, owner of the Panama Café
  • Organizations of Chinatown
    • Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, the oldest such association in Canada
    • Chinese Freemasons (Hongmen Society)
    • Chinese Empire Reform Association
    • Chinese Canadian Cultural Association
  • Robert Amos Paints Chinatown

See Also :

Access Rights: Contact UVic Archives for access to the original resource and for reproduction requests (fee for reproductions).

Use Rights: This material is made available on this site for research and private study only.