Victoria’s Chinatown, a gateway to the past and present of Chinese Canadians

User Collection Public

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.

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