Gold Mountain

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Gold Mountain (Chinese: 金山; Mandarin Pinyin: jīn shān; Wade–Giles: chin1 shan1; Jyutping: gam1 saan1, "Gam Saan" in Cantonese, often rendered in English as Gum Shan or Gumshan) is the name given by the Chinese to western regions of North America, particularly California, USA and British Columbia, Canada. After gold was first discovered in the state of California in 1848, thousands of Chinese from Toisan in Guangdong (Chinese: 台山; Mandarin Pinyin: tái shān; Wade–Giles: t'ai2 shan1; Jyutping: toi4 saan1), began to travel to California in search of gold and riches during the California Gold Rush.

California and British Columbia are still called Gold Mountain by the Chinese today, as evidenced by maps and returned Overseas Chinese. However, because gold was also discovered in Australia (and there was a great sojourning there, too)  – California was known as Old Gold Mountain (Chinese: 舊金山; Mandarin Pinyin: jiù jīn shān; Wade–Giles: chiu4 chin1 shan1; Jyutping: gau6 gam1 saan1). However, the name Old Gold Mountain now specifically refers to San Francisco (see the Chinese-language article 旧金山).


The name "Gold Mountain" was initially applied to California. Ships full of immigrants docked in San Francisco to disembark passengers, initially bound for the gold fields, but later to remain in the growing Chinese settlement in San Francisco (see Chinatown, San Francisco). In the latter part of the 19th century, however, British Columbia also came to be referred to as "Gold Mountain" following the discovery of gold in the Fraser Canyon in the 1850s and the spread of Chinese settlers in British Columbia (which they also referred to as "The Colonies of T'ang" i.e. China).[1] The term thus broadened to mean "Western North America". The gold seekers in British Columbia first went to Victoria, BC/Chinatown, Victoria, on the Colony of Vancouver Island to obtain supplies. Victoria was the dominant political and economic centre before the economic ascendancy of Vancouver, BC/Chinatown, Vancouver. Victoria remains the official seat of political power in British Columbia today.

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  • Hasley, Karen J.: "Gold Mountain" (Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, 2012) a work of fiction describing this time in history