An Introduction to Victoria's Chinatown
In early 2020, we formed the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society to honour the history, culture and contribution of Chinese Canadians. We want to tell a story, the story of how we lived and what our ancestors had to go through to get to today. Our history is deeply embedded in the history of this province. Our ancestors came here with nothing. They had to work hard, prove themselves and create a lifestyle that integrated two cultures. We are going to have a museum that we will be proud of. From commerce, music, food, art and architecture the history of these extraordinary people is fascinating and important.
Premier John Horgan stated on July 16, 2020 “Chinese Canadians have made profound contributions to BC’s history, culture, and economy. We’re putting forward $10 million to establish a Chinese Canadian Museum – the first in Canada. The new museum will tell the unique stories that make up the Chinese Canadian experience. It will encourage all British Columbians to learn more about BC’s past and each other. By learning about the past, we can better understand the present and shape a better future for everyone.”
Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest surviving in Canada. The only one in North America to retain its 19th century townscape. As such, these buildings and their labyrinthine features are of the highest heritage value. They define the unique character of the district, those who lived there, and over a century of history. In 1995, Canada’s Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated it a site of national and architectural significance.
It is vital that a centre in Victoria be created for sharing, honouring and celebrating the role our ancestors played in our city and our province’s history. The work is underway to plan locations, building sites and content. As these plans are finalized, they will be shared with our community and opportunities for engagement, story-telling and artifact retention will begin. A fundraising campaign will be announced at a future date to ensure we realize the full potential of this museum for our community and to enhance unique the tourism experience visitors to Victoria’s Chinatown enjoy.
The Victoria Chinatown Museum Society is dedicated to the creation of a permanent museum to serve as a tribute to the vital role the Chinese community played in the cultural fabric of the City of Victoria and British Columbia. This will be a living museum honouring the past, present and future. The stories of Chinese Canadian pioneers within Victoria’s Chinatown, which was designated as a National Historic Site and is the oldest remaining Chinatown in North America, will become a hub for learning, tourism and celebration.
As the first generation of Chinese Canadians to be born in Victoria, I feel it is important to share the legacy of our ancestors. It was through their hard work and perseverance that has granted us the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy today. This museum will honour our culture and our ancestors.
– Alan Lowe
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