International Trade

Chinese Canadian historic places receive provincial recognition

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International Trade

Chinese Canadian historic places receive provincial recognition

Media Contacts
Media Relations
Ministry of International Trade
and Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
250 356-7293
Media Relations
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 356-5261
Media Contacts
Media Relations
Ministry of International Trade
and Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
250 356-7293
Media Relations
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 356-5261

Backgrounders

Historic recognition process

Heritage BC, a not-for-profit, charitable organization, was contracted to administer the public nomination process for Chinese historic places. Its mandate is to support heritage conservation through advocacy, training and skills development, capacity-building in heritage planning and funding through the Heritage Legacy Fund.

It received 138 submissions representing 77 places to be considered for recognition, of which 21 have been recognized. An evaluation team, made up of a working group from the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council and the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, recommended 21 of the nominations for recognition under section 18 of the Heritage Conservation Act. The 21 sites are:

Chinese Business and Residences, Alert Bay – This area has significance for illustrating the influence of Chinese Canadians even in the most remote areas of British Columbia. The still-existing buildings were previously owned by Chinese Canadians and are a reminder of the Chinese Canadian business community that was located in the southeast commercial area of Alert Bay. The place is also significant for the still-existing Chinese Canadian supermarket and the longstanding historical ties between Chinese Canadians and local First Nations communities.

Coal Creek Park (Chinatown), Cumberland – This place is considered to have heritage significance due to its association with the Chinese Canadian involvement in coal mining in the Cumberland region. The place is associated with the everyday lives of Chinese Canadian workers, through the presence of a piggery, a tofu making facility and produce gardens that provided for both Chinese Canadians and the larger community. An enduring legacy and connection to the present day is found in the Cumberland reunion picnic which takes place each year.

Cumberland Chinese Cemetery – This cemetery has been identified as having significance through its association with coal mining in Cumberland and its multicultural community that included Chinese Canadian, Japanese Canadian, and African-American workers from Pennsylvania. Also symbolic of the place is the fact that Chinese workers were the only ones allowed to go underground, working the most dangerous of jobs. Many Chinese Canadians continue to be remembered in the names of stores in Cumberland.

Kamloops Chinese Cemetery – This cemetery, originating in the 1890s, is considered to have heritage value due to its association with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the impact of the railway on the City of Kamloops. The donation of land for the cemetery by a local rancher symbolizes the social relationships between Chinese Canadians and other citizens of Kamloops, and its use of feng shui principles and illustration of Chinese Canadian burial practices gives it high cultural value.

Gold Rush Landscapes, Fraser Canyon – These landscapes are considered significant for being the best representative example of the extensive history of Chinese Canadian gold mining on the Fraser River. These landscapes also represent the importance of close and longstanding historical relationships between Chinese Canadians and First Nations in British Columbia.

Lytton Joss House, Lytton – Although there are no building remains, the site of the Lytton Joss House is considered to have heritage significance as one of the oldest places for Chinese ceremonies and rituals in B.C. It was constructed in 1881 by Chinese Canadian workers who arrived in Lytton to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

New Westminster Historic Chinese CemeteryThe Chinese Canadian cemetery at New Westminster is considered to have significance as an excellent example of a large, built-over cemetery, now disappeared beneath New Westminster secondary school. The cemetery is significant for its representation of the significant Chinese Canadian presence in the founding years of the city, of discriminatory practices that segregated the dead, and its enduring symbolism as a site of an erased Chinese Canadian presence.

New Westminster ChinatownNew Westminster’s Chinatown is significant for its historical, cultural, scientific, social and spiritual values, particularly as a representation of the unique and pioneering role its Chinese Canadian citizens played in B.C.’s early development. Evolving as a distinct settlement beginning in the 1860s, New Westminster’s Chinatown is valued as a former expansive area of Chinese Canadian businesses, retail establishments and institutional buildings that formed a large, distinct, and well-defined Chinatown within the City of New Westminster.

Nelson Chinatown/ Sing Chong Laundry, Nelson – These places have value for commemorating the significant contribution of Chinese Canadians to the early development of Nelson. Captured in famous literary writings such as Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill, the small Chinese Canadian cafés and other businesses of Nelson are an example of other such places in small towns throughout British Columbia.

Arrandale, Mill Bay and Nass Harbour Canneries, north of Prince Rupert – These canneries are considered significant for their connection to Chinese Canadian workers on the remote Nass River on B.C.’s north coast. The canneries are significant for their multicultural population and representation of the Chinese Canadian presence in a northern cannery. They are also significant because they exemplify the contribution of Chinese Canadians in the fish canning industry and the overall economic growth of the province.

Quesnel Forks – Quesnel Forks is considered to be significant for its association with the beginning of the Cariboo gold rush. Settled by Chinese railway workers after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Quesnel historically had a large Chinese Canadian population and a large cemetery, and is important for being an early Chinese settlement in existence prior to the height of the gold rush and the creation of Barkerville.

Nam Sing Ranch, Quesnel – Nam Sing Ranch is considered to have heritage significance through its history of early (1870s) land ownership by Chinese Canadians, during a time when it was rare for Chinese Canadians to own land in B.C. The ranch also symbolizes the contribution of Chinese Canadians to the growth of the agricultural industry of the province.

Ah bau Creek, Lake and Bridge, near Quesnel – These historical features are considered significant through their association with Ah Bau, a successful Chinese Canadian placer miner significant in the Cariboo and Prince George regions of the province. These places are important for representing the wider Chinese Canadian community through the development of a significant homestead and local school.

Commando Bay, Okanagan Lake – Commando Bay is considered significant for its use as a site for the secret training of Chinese Canadian soldiers for guerrilla warfare in 1944. The rigorous training that was conducted at the Commando Bay camp was for a small group of specially-selected Chinese Canadian volunteers to serve as commandos for the British intelligence service. Many of the veterans of this group became prominent community leaders after the war, including the first Chinese Canadian Member of Parliament Douglas Jung and labour organizer and newspaper editor Roy Mah.

Lord Strathcona school, Vancouver – Lord Strathcona school is considered to have significance for being a foundational place in the history of many Chinese Canadians in the province. It was a trusted place of learning, long serving the Chinese Canadian community of Vancouver as the closest elementary school to Chinatown. It was known as a “mini United Nations” for its high level of cultural diversity, reflecting the multicultural mix of Strathcona as the first working class community of Vancouver.

Chinese Market Gardens at Musqueam Reserve #2, Vancouver – The Chinese Canadian market gardens associated with Musqueam traditional territory in Vancouver are significant for their association with Chinese Canadian agriculture and entrepreneurship, in particular the creation of market gardens growing fresh produce for a local urban market. Dating from the late 19th century all the way into the 1980s, the 18 Chinese Canadian farms at Musqueam represent a unique arrangement of small scale agricultural land use amidst urban development.

Vancouver Chinatown – Vancouver’s Chinatown has also been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in June 2010. As one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in the country, it is considered to have significance because of its physical fabric, its development as a self-segregated enclave and because its ongoing uses reflect the many contributions and struggles of Chinese Canadians throughout most of their history in this country.

Victoria Chinatown – Victoria’s Chinatown, which is also designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, is significant because it is the oldest surviving Chinatown in Canada, it was the largest urban centre of Chinese population in Canada through the first decade of the twentieth century, it is one of a very few Chinatowns in North America to retain cohesive groupings of high heritage value and it is dominated by its historical buildings.

D’arcy Island Chinese Canadian Leprosy Quarantine Station, near Victoria – D’Arcy Island is considered to be of heritage value through its uniqueness and its former use as an isolation hospital for Chinese Canadian patients suffering from leprosy. The place is particularly emblematic of the particular forms of discrimination suffered by Chinese Canadians in British Columbia and the vicious stereotypes used to justify fear and the need to segregate Chinese Canadians.

Dominion Immigration House, Victoria – The site of this building is significant for the role it played as B.C.’s processing centre for immigrants arriving on the west coast. People often endured intense interrogation and scrutiny from immigration officers policing exclusionary anti-Asian immigration policy here. Known for its prison-like qualities, the site is important as a reminder of the restrictive regulations for Asian immigration through legislation such as the Head Tax imposed in 1885 which charged Chinese migrants $50.

Tod Inlet, Vancouver Island – The now-vanished Town of Tod Inlet has heritage value due to its multiple layers of heritage significance. The place is significant for its association with the local First Nations, and as the former workplace for a multicultural population of Chinese Canadian, South Asian Canadian, and First Nations workers at the Vancouver Portland Cement Company. It also has significance as an industrial site as the first cement company on the west coast.

Media Contacts
Media Relations
Ministry of International Trade and Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
250 356-7293
Media Relations
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 356-5261

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