Chinatowns in Canada

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Chinatown
Chinatown, My Chinatown.pdf
Cover of sheet music, published in 1910
Chinese 唐人街
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 中國城
Simplified Chinese 中国城
Second alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 華埠
Simplified Chinese 华埠

Chinatowns in Canada generally exist in the large cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and existed in some smaller towns throughout the history of Canada. Prior to 1900, almost all Chinese were located in British Columbia, but have spread throughout Canada thereafter. From 1923 to 1967, immigration from China was suspended due to exclusion laws. In 1997, the handover of Hong Kong to China caused many from there to flee to Canada due to uncertainties. According to an article from the Globe and Mail, Canada had 25 Chinatowns total across the entire country between the 1930s to 1940s, some of which had become extinct.[1]

History[edit]

Chinese labourers working on the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884

Chinatowns have existed in Canada since the 1880s with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway with the first recorded visit in 1788.[2] The first Chinese landed on the Canadian west coast in 1788 and have integrated with the Canadian multicultural society.[3]

Major timeline for Chinese Canadian history is:[3]

  • 1788 - First recorded Chinese visitor in Canada
  • 1858 - Fraser River Gold Rush
  • 1861 - First Chinese Canadian born
  • 1872 - Disenfranchisement of Chinese in British Columbia
  • 1880s - Canadian Pacific railway employs many Chinese
  • 1923 - Chinese exclusion laws passed, causes hardships for Chinese Canadians
  • 1957 - Chinese franchised, many entered into politics
  • 1967 - Immigration from China liberalized
  • mid 1980s to 2000 - Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people flee to Canada because they feared threats from the PRC would betray the Sino-British Joint Declaration and turn Hong Kong into a mainland Chinese city, suppressing and discriminating Hong Kong people.

Demographics[edit]

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown is the first full-size Chinese or "scholars" garden built outside of China
Main article: Chinese Canadian

Canadians of Chinese descent, including mixed Chinese and other ethnic origins, make up about four percent of the Canadian population, or about 1.3 million people as of 2006.[4] The Chinese Canadian community is the largest ethnic group of Asian Canadians, consisting approximately 40% of the Asian Canadian population. Most of them are concentrated within the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The five metropolitan areas with the largest Chinese Canadian populations are the Greater Toronto Area (537,060), Greater Vancouver (402,000), Greater Montreal (120,000), Calgary Region (75,410), and the Edmonton Capital Region (53,670).[5]

Alberta[edit]

Edmonton[edit]

Chinatown and Little Italy is a business revitalization zone (BRZ), created by the City of Edmonton, roughly comprising the informal Chinatown and Little Italy ethnic enclaves in the city's inner neighbourhoods. The boundaries of the BRZ includes only the "commercial strips" within those enclaves, and the BRZ itself strattles the official neighbourhoods of McCauley and Boyle Street.[6]

Calgary[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Calgary
Chinese Dragon Dance in Calgary Chinatown

The Chinatown in Calgary is the largest in Alberta. It spans 1 St E westward to 10 St W and from the Bow River southward to 4 Ave SW. This Chinatown consists of a large shopping centre called Dragon City Mall and a Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre located at 1 St SW. Nearly all of this is post-1930s, as Calgary's original Chinatown was little more than a handful of "Chinese and Western" restaurants in the same area, without the historic Chinese-ethnic residential-commercial quality of more historic Chinatowns like those in Vancouver.[2]

Lethbridge[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Lethbridge

Lethbridge has the remains of a once thriving Chinatown. The Kuomintang and Chinese Freemasons buildings are about all that remain on 4 Street South near 2 Street South. By the 1960s, Chinese residents began moving out of the area, and by the end of the 20th century, all but one resident — Albert Leong, owner of Bow On Tong — had moved out, and Chinatown was reduced to one block with only a handful of buildings.[2]

British Columbia[edit]

Vancouver[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Vancouver
Millennium Gate on Pender Street in Vancouver's Chinatown

Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia is Canada's largest Chinatown. Centred on Pender Street, it is surrounded by Gastown and the Downtown Financial and Central Business Districts to the west, the Downtown Eastside to the north, the remnant of old Japantown to the northeast, and the residential neighbourhood of Strathcona to the east. The approximate street borders of Chinatown's official area as designated by the City of Vancouver are the alley between Pender Street and Hastings, Georgia, Gore, and Taylor Streets,[7]

Richmond[edit]

Golden Village is a commercial district of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada best known for its high concentration of Asian-themed shopping malls. Richmond is the home to the second-largest Asian community in North America.[8] Richmond's population is up to 60 percent Asian-Canadian.[9]

Victoria[edit]

Entrance to Victoria's Chinatown.

The Chinatown in Victoria, British Columbia is the oldest in Canada and second in age only to San Francisco's in North America, with its beginnings in the mass influx of miners from California to what is now British Columbia in 1858. Its history goes back to the mid nineteenth century. It remains an active place for Chinese-Canadians, Victoria residents and tourists. Victoria's Chinatown is now surrounded by cultural, entertainment venues as well as being a venue itself.[10]

Other Chinatowns in British Columbia[edit]

  • New Westminster's Chinatown and disappeared after 1898 fire.
  • Cumberland's Chinatown – once the second-largest on the West Coast of North America (c.1910) and disappeared in the 1970s.[11]
  • Stanley, British Columbia – a gold-mining community near Barkerville which became the largest town in the Cariboo goldfields after Barkerville's decline. In 1900 well over half its population was Chinese. Other towns in the Cariboo goldfields were also noticeably Chinese in composition – Richfield, Antler and others. Settlements in other areas which had Chinatowns, or which became predominantly Chinese for some of their lifespan, were Hazelton, Boston Bar, Lillooet, Rock Creek, Granite Creek and Fisherville (Wild Horse Creek). Cities which had now-vanished Chinatowns included Nanaimo and Penticton.[2]

Manitoba[edit]

Winnipeg[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Winnipeg

Chinatown in Winnipeg, Manitoba was formed in 1909.[12] Located on King Street between James and Higgins Avenues, it was officially recognized in 1968. Winnipeg's Chinatown is home to many shops and restaurants including Asian grocery stores and an herbal products store.[12]

Ontario[edit]

Ottawa[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Ottawa
Signs in Ottawa's Chinatown have Chinese subscript.

Ottawa's Chinatown is located along Somerset Street in downtown Ottawa. It runs from Bay Street in the east to Rochester St in the west (according to the Chinatown BIA). Signs for Chinatown continue along Somerset until Preston Street, and Chinese/Asian restaurants can be found even further west.[13]

Toronto[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Toronto

Chinatown in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses extending along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue. First developed in the late 19th century, it is now one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and one of several major Chinese-Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area.[14]

Windsor[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Windsor

Windsor's West Side neighborhood is home to a Chinatown.[15] Many Asians Americans who long for Chinese food from Detroit often visit this Chinatown, alongside Chicago and Toronto according to another source.[16]

Other Chinatowns in Ontario[edit]

According to an archived copy of an article from the Globe and Mail newspaper, Hamilton and Sudbury were also once home to a Chinatown.[17][18]

Quebec[edit]

The gate on boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal

Montreal[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Montreal

Chinatown in Montreal is located in the area of De la Gauchetière Street in Montreal. The neighborhood contains many Asian restaurants, food markets, and convenience stores as well being home to many of Montreal's East Asian community centres, such as the Montreal Chinese Hospital and the Montreal Chinese Community and Cultural Center.[19]

Quebec City[edit]

There was once a Chinatown on Côte d'Abraham in Quebec City, but Autoroute Dufferin-Montmorency cuts through what was once its location. Historically, it paled in size in contrast to its somewhat larger counterpart in Montreal. The first Chinese residents arrived in the late 19th Century. Most Chinese in the area operated business catering to their own: opium dens, mah-jongg, and Chinese laundries. The area peaked in the 1940s and 1950s. The separatist movement caused many to leave in the 1980s and 1990s. Some restaurants and a few Chinese residents remain. Most have moved to Montreal or Toronto.[13]

Saskatchewan[edit]

Moose Jaw[edit]

According to an archived copy of an article from the Globe and Mail, Moose Jaw was once home to a Chinatown,[17][18] which existed on River Street West.[20] According to a study by the University of Regina, Moose Jaw's Chinatown initially had 160 Chinese and then grew to 957 by 1911.[21] By the 1920s and 1930s, Moose Jaw's Chinatown was the largest in Saskatechewan with a population of more than 300. More than half of the restaurants in Moose Jaw were owned by Chinese and all but one Laundromat was owned by the Chinese. However, the attitudes of the time reflected much racism and discrimination against the Chinese population that they were even barred from participating in government.[22]

Regina[edit]

Regina's Chinatown is found on 11th Avenue between Broad Street and Winnipeg Street. It features red bilingual street signs (in contrast to the standard English-only blue signs) and a few Asian groceries.[2]

Saskatoon[edit]

In Saskatoon, the Riversdale district has a historical Chinese settlement dating back to the early 20th century, where Chinese immigrants were employed by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, and established businesses within this district. Riversdale is currently home to many Chinese restaurants and stores.[23]

Other Chinatowns in Saskatechewan[edit]

According to the University of Regina, other Chinatowns existed in Swift Current and Battleford.[21]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "'Chinatown is gone, gone to heaven'". 
  2. ^ a b c d e Chuen-yan David Lai (1988). Chinatowns: Towns Within Cities in Canada. UBC Press. pp. 175–. ISBN 978-0-7748-0309-0. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Moments of Chinese Canadian History". 
  4. ^ "Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada - Data table". 2.statcan.ca. 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  5. ^ Métro Montréal - La Chine installe enfin un consulat à Montréal
  6. ^ "Chinatown and Little Italy Business Association :: City of Edmonton". Edmonton.ca. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  7. ^ Map of official boundaries of Chinatown, City of Vancouver website
  8. ^ Richmond's Golden Village[dead link]
  9. ^ globeandmail.com: Dim sum meets cellphone nirvana[dead link]
  10. ^ "Chinatown History - Communities In B.C. - Bc Archives Time Machine". Bcarchives.gov.bc.ca. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  11. ^ "CCFS History of Cumberland - There are 1,000,000 uses for our forest. Help us preserve it". Cumberlandforest.com. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  12. ^ a b http://www.tourismwinnipeg.com/visitors/neighbourhoods/chinatown
  13. ^ a b Chuen-yan David Lai (1988). Chinatowns: Towns Within Cities in Canada. UBC Press. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-0-7748-0309-0. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Changes to Toronto’s Chinatown: Toronto's First Chinatown and Downtown Chinatown | CCNC Toronto Chapter". Ccnctoronto.ca. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  15. ^ "Wah Court Restaurant". 
  16. ^ "On Menus in Motown, Detroit's Chinatown". 
  17. ^ a b "Quebec City's Chinatown - gone but not forgotten". 
  18. ^ a b "Quebec City's Chinatown - gone but not forgotten". Toronto. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Montreal Chinese Cultural Community Center". Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  20. ^ James W. St. G. Walker. Race, Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies. 
  21. ^ a b "Chinese Community". 
  22. ^ Moose Jaw:People, Places, History. 
  23. ^ "History". Village of Riversdale. Riversdale Business Improvement District. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 

External links[edit]