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Chinatowns in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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, Ottawa, 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. Canada had about 25 Chinatowns across the country between the 1930s to 1940s, some of which have ceased to exist.[1]


Chinese labourers working on the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884
Chinese labourers working on the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884

Chinatowns have existed in Canada since the 1850s, 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
  • 1947 - 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.


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
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

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]



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]


Chinese Dragon Dance in Calgary Chinatown
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 and Victoria.[2] This city also has a Japantown on 29th Street SW.


Lethbridge has the remains of a once thriving Chinatown. The Kuomintang and Chinese Freemasons buildings are about all that remain on 2 Ave South near 4 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


Millennium Gate on Pender Street in Vancouver's Chinatown
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]


Entrance to Victoria's Chinatown.
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.[8]

Other Chinatowns in British Columbia



Chinatown in Winnipeg, Manitoba was formed in 1909.[10] 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.[10]

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is aggressively trying to tackle its population crunch by attracting skilled workers, and calls China a "key market" for immigration leading to the formation of a small Chinatown in Halifax.[11]


Gates to Ottawa's Chinatown
Gates to Ottawa's Chinatown


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.[12]


Greater Toronto has several cities with concentrated Chinese establishments and Chinatowns. Downtown Toronto's Chinatown has a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses extending along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue. This city also has a Koreatown for Korean Canadians. First developed in the late 19th century, this Asian ethnic enclave is now one of the largest Chinese-Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto's neighbouring cities of Mississauga and Markham also host a number of large Chinese business centres, plazas and malls, albeit no single defined Chinatown.


Windsor's West Side neighborhood is home to a Chinatown.[13] Many Asians Americans who long for Chinese food from Detroit often visit this Chinatown, alongside Chicago and Toronto.[14]

Other Chinatowns in Ontario

Hamilton and Sudbury were also once home to a Chinatown.[15][16]


The gate on boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal
The gate on boulevard Saint-Laurent, 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.[17]

Quebec City

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 with area peaking 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 of them moved to either Montreal or Toronto.[18]


Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw was once home to a Chinatown,[15][16] which existed on River Street West.[19] Moose Jaw's Chinatown initially had 160 Chinese and then grew to 957 by 1911.[20] By the 1920s and 1930s, Moose Jaw's Chinatown was the largest in Saskatchewan 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.[21]


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]


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.[22]

Other Chinatowns in Saskatchewan

Other Chinatowns existed in Swift Current and Battleford.[20]

See also


  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". 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  5. ^ Métro Montréal - La Chine installe enfin un consulat à Montréal Archived 2011-08-27 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Chinatown and Little Italy Business Association :: City of Edmonton". Archived from the original on 2012-05-12. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  7. ^ Map of official boundaries of Chinatown, City of Vancouver website
  8. ^ "Chinatown History - Communities In B.C. - Bc Archives Time Machine". Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  9. ^ "CCFS History of Cumberland - There are 1,000,000 uses for our forest. Help us preserve it". Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ Bundale, Brett (11 April 2018). "As more Chinese newcomers call Halifax home, early signs of a Chinatown emerge". Global News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Wah Court Restaurant".
  14. ^ "On Menus in Motown, Detroit's Chinatown".
  15. ^ a b "Quebec City's Chinatown - gone but not forgotten".
  16. ^ a b "Quebec City's Chinatown - gone but not forgotten". Toronto. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006.
  17. ^ "Montreal Chinese Cultural Community Center". Archived from the original on 2 February 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  18. ^ Chuen-yan David Lai (1988). Chinatowns: Towns Within Cities in Canada. UBC Press. pp. 100–. ISBN 978-0-7748-0309-0. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  19. ^ James W. St. G. Walker. Race, Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies.
  20. ^ a b "Chinese Community".
  21. ^ Moose Jaw:People, Places, History.
  22. ^ "History". Village of Riversdale. Riversdale Business Improvement District. Retrieved 2010-12-10.

External links

This page was last edited on 21 February 2019, at 06:15
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