Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and second in age only to San Francisco’s Chinatown. Chinatown continued to grow steadily until 1911 with a population of about 3,158 people. That was and is the largest population Chinatown has seen since it started to suffer a serious decline. Victoria was the major port and nearly 16,000 Chinese passed through, whether it be to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway or to look for gold.
Between the 1920’s – 1970’s Chinatown went from six blocks to just about two and a population of less than 150. It had become a relic in a society that had become more upwardly mobile. In the late 70’s early 80’s it was decided they would renovate. Erecting the Gate of Harmonious Interest, painting, building the Chinatown Care Center, repairing Fan Tan Alley and installing street signs that can be read by everyone was one way to improve the living conditions as well as bring new life to Chinatown. Today it is estimated that there are around 400 people living in Chinatown.
Victoria’s Chinatown is of valuable and historical importance and is incredibly rich in history. What was once the largest settlement of Chinese in Canada, produced the future generations, which would make changes of significant value in their communities.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), the first of its kind, originated in Victoria in 1884 to protect the rights of the immigrants. They over saw and protected the rights of the people in the community. Victoria Chung, named after the city she was born in, born in 1897 became one of the first female physicians. Douglas Jung, born in Victoria became the first person of Chinese heritage to be elected to Canada’s parliament. He also served in WW II.