Chinatown, Victoria

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Fisgard Street

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  • Fisgard St.,China Town,Victoria,B.c.Canada.
    Fisgard St.,China...
    by Greggor58
  • The Gate of Harmonious Interest
    The Gate of Harmonious Interest
    by richiecdisc
  • Lee Mong Kow family mural
    Lee Mong Kow family mural
    by richiecdisc
  • corner of fizgard and goverment

    by lloydstanley Written Nov 22, 2013

    I am a local person who wanted to spend the day getting to know Victoria better. I drove 1 hour from my home to go explore china town. What a horrible experience that was. The first store I went into i was treated so bad. The lady behind the counter was rude and did not want to help me with a question i had about buying something from their store, in fact she turned and looked away from me and left me looking like a fool. I will never set foot in that store again and I will never encourage anyone to to support that store on the corner of fizgard and government street. What a horrible advertising they are for the whole community.

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  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    Victoria's China Town

    by pieter_jan_v Updated Oct 11, 2012
    China Town explained
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    Victoria's China Town is one quarter between Fisgard Street and Pandora Avenue with the narrow Fan Tan alley (officially Canada's narrowest road) connecting both streets in between. It's the oldest Chinese quarter in Canada.

    There are some nice shops and Chinese restaurants, but some of the area in under construction and the new businesses not always will be Chinese.

    Still it's a must to see and if you need Chinese vegetables or other things: it's there!

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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Canada's oldest Chinatown

    by Jefie Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Chinatown's Gate of Harmonious Interest
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    Victoria's Chinatown was founded in 1858. Although it still covers about 6 blocks, it is estimated that during the Gold Rush, Chinatown accounted for about half of Victoria's entire population and was comprised of over 150 shops, three schools, five temples, two churches and a hospital. Today's Chinatown is much smaller, but it has retained much of its distinct cultural flavour.

    At the corner of Government and Fisgard St. stands the "Gate of Harmonious Interest", a gift from the city of Suzhou, China, one of Victoria’s sister cities. If you walk down Fisgard St. towards Wharf St., make sure to keep your eyes open for Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada. The old opium dens, gambling houses and brothels of Fan Tan Alley have now become novelty stores and souvenir shops. Also, on Sundays, Government St. turns into a huge marketplace.

    If you want to find out more about the history of Victoria's Chinatown, you can go on a guided walking tour. The 90-minute tours start at the "Bright Pearl" sculpture (near the gate, no reservation needed), and cost $12. Tours run year-round on Saturdays at 10:30 am, and on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in July and August.

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    Lots of Small Stores and Restaurants

    by glabah Updated Dec 24, 2010

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    Chinatown entrance:
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    Chinatown itself, while supposedly the best preserved Chinatown in all of Canada (according to the standard tourist propaganda), really isn't that large. It is filled with a number of small stores and restaurants, and those are really all better covered in their own entries.

    You will find a number of public art works that emphasize this is Victoria's china town, and that is about it in terms of making Chinatown a general purpose tip due to the businesses all being separate.

    The main gate (see photo 1) is located at Fisgard and Government streets, and the main business district of Chinatown extends west on Fisgard street from there. A huge portion of the markets, stores and restaurants are extremely hidden from view from the street as they are located down narrow alleys. The most commonly mentioned such alley on the tourist literature is Fan Tan Alley, which runs south from Fisgard Street several stores west from Government Street.

    Herald Street, one block north of Fisgard, also features some elements of Chinatown, but not the heavy concentration seen on Fisgard for the one block between Government Street and Store Street.

    I have just barely scratched the surface of what is available in Chinatown in terms of vendors and restaurants. However, most likely you will find your best information about this area of town featured in the individual restaurant and shopping tourist information rather than in general Chinatown information.

    Other than all those independent businesses, the primary attraction here is to wander through the section and window-shop, and admire the huge works of art declaring to the world that this is Chinatown.

    The web site given below is for a tour company that does offer walking tours of Chinatown, but I have not been on any of their tours. It does feature a little information about the area, but not a whole lot.

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Chinatown murals

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 22, 2009

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    Lee Mong Kow family mural
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    Victoria's Chinatown may have lacked in some respects but the murals that decorate some of its walls were stellar and inspiring. We found them to be one of the highlights of the city. It felt like you were looking in at some part of history.

    Lee Mong Kow was born in China in1863 and emigrated to Victoria in 1882. His superior intelligence, talent in English, and trustworthiness led to him being appointed as first the interpreter at the Canada Custom House and later at Canadian Immigration. Along with his official duties, he owned and operated many Chinatown businesses while having 17 children with wife Seto Chang Ann whom he married in 1893. He was noted for helping Chinese immigrants cut through red tape and is revered today as one of Chinatown's greatest all-time citizens.

    The mural was painted by Maltby in 2007 and is located at 631 Fisgard Street. The artist has another fantastic mural at 512 Fisgard Street depicting life in Chinatown at the turn of the century.

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    The Gate of Harmonious Interest to Chinatown

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 22, 2009

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    The Gate of Harmonious Interest
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    The Gate of Harmonious Interest is the gateway to Victoria's Chinatown and was installed in 1981 though modeled after those and built in China. Its theme is one of Yin & Yang with a Golden Dragon and Red Phoenix featured prominently. Two inscriptions "To work together with one heart" and "To help each other achieve harmony." alludes to the fact that both Chinese and non-Chinese locals worked together to make this gate possible.

    The Chinese Public School located at 636 Fisgard Street was constructed in 1909 and stilll offers classes in Chinese languages, history and culture.

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  • Greggor58's Profile Photo

    Oldest China Town in Canada...

    by Greggor58 Updated Sep 20, 2009

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    Gate of Harmonious Interest,Fisgard St, Victoria
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    This little neighborhood close to the Gorge area of Victoria's waterfront possesses some interesting shops and restaurants to be discovered and is well worth a little walk about to have a look.Its not a large area to cover and walking wont take you more than an hour...depending on how much you want to browse or window shop...

    Victoria's China Town is in fact listed on Parks Canada's list of National Historic sites because it is the oldest surviving China Town in Canada and was the largest urban center of Chinese population in Canada through the first decade of the twentieth century...The Chinese were some of the earliest immigrants to settle permanently in Victoria...many arrived here early on during the Gold Rush on mainland B.C. and stayed...

    Here you will find an assortment of grocery stores,restaurants,and shops where you can find cheap souvenirs and postcards.

    China Town contains a network of alleyways and courtyards hidden behind the street fronts that used to be havens of gambling and opium dens .The alleyways served as escape routes in case of police raids.These are still seen today but the alleyways are filled with small shops and galleries..

    The main entrance..The Gate of Harmonious Interest was constructed in the Eighties as a monument in recognition of, and to preserve, the Chinese heritage in Victoria for everyone.

    The stone lions at the Gate were donated by Victoria's sister city,Suzhou in the People's Republic
    of China and on the outer right pillar is a plaque with the names of 61 Chinese Canadians who
    died fighting for Canada in the Second World War.There are also time capsules embedded into the concrete on either side of the red pillars...

    The most narrow street in all of Canada is to be found here in Victoria's China Town....its name..Fan Tan Alley...measures all of 0.9 metres wide...This alleyway is the place where the famous motorcycle chase scene was shot for the film"Bird on a Wire" starring Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson...

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  • grasshopper_6's Profile Photo

    Bubble tea in Fan Tan Alley

    by grasshopper_6 Updated Nov 18, 2008

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    Chinatown in Victoria has great food, shopping and sightseeing. Order a bubble tea and have a walk down Fan Tan Alley.
    Once full of brothels and opium dens, the alley is now undoubtedly the narrowest shopping district in British Columbia.
    As for the bubble tea ... well, try one and judge for yourself.

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  • cinthya_in_victoria's Profile Photo

    Chinatown

    by cinthya_in_victoria Updated Jul 1, 2008

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    Victoria's Chinatown is the third largest and the oldest in Canada. There you'll find lots of restaurants, tea shops, cafes (I recommend you to go to 'Bean around the world'), art and gift shops and many, many inexpensive stuff!!! I advise you to go to a big shop located at the left of the Gate of Harmonious Interest, sorry I don't remember the name of the shop but you will love it! Even though it is a safe place, don't go alone at night. There is a walk tour to Chinatown where you'll learn about its history and famous people, it is offer by local famous John Adams. To get more info and prices go to the Visitor info Centre.

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  • Carmanah's Profile Photo

    Chinatown

    by Carmanah Updated Jun 29, 2007

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    The main gates in Chinatown
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    The Chinese people play a big role in British Columbia history and are certainly considered pioneers. Chinatown is part of that history. It's an old part of Victoria which holds onto Chinese heritage.

    If you've been to Vancouver or San Francisco, or any city with a really large Chinatown, don't come to Victoria with the same expectations. While Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest one in Canada, it's possibly the smallest as well. The area is pretty much confined to one and a half blocks. However, you'll see Chinese restaurants, produce stores, traditional medicine stores and more. If you look closely and zoom in on the photo I've attached, you can even spot a Chinese-style telephone booth!

    The best part about Victoria's Chinatown, in my opinion, is Fan Tan Alley. Fan Tan Alley is a very narrow gap between 2 buildings, and if you weren't looking for it, you would walk right past it without realizing it was there. Once you walk through the narrow path between the 2 brick buildings, it opens up into a narrow courtyard with a bunch of little shops. There's a great used music shop, and a fantastic musical instrument shop. There's some great clothing boutiques, and my favourite, the Chinese store full of little trinkets and novelty items. The store looks small, even from inside, but once you go around the corner, you realize it extends into several rooms!

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    Historic & Exciting!

    by Jetgirly Updated May 15, 2007

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    Gates of Harmonious Interest - Busy Day!
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    There is lots to see and do in Victoria's Chinatown! Walk along Government Street until you reach Fisgard- then you've arrived! Check out the Silk Road Tea House on Government St for teas, and bath products. Wander through the maze-like Neverending Store, squeeze through Fantan Alley (scenes from Bird on a Wire were shot here) and stop for bubble tea at Panacea. For dinner you can't beat the food at Don Mees, and they apparently have great dim sum too!.

    While you're in the neighbourhood, walk down to Wharf St. and turn left- check out Fran Willis' funky art gallery (quickly, as she just announced that after twenty-five years she will be closing her doors)!

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Chinatown

    by Dabs Updated Aug 21, 2006

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    Chinatown
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    Victoria's Chinatown, founded in 1858 by Chinese immigrants looking for gold or working for the railroads, is the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Only covering 6 blocks, it's certainly not as big or as active as Vancouver's Chinatown but it's worth a look since it's so centrally located.

    If you find yourself in Chinatown, be sure to find Fan Tan Alley, the world's narrowest street which is only about 4 feet and either end and no more than 6 feet in the middle. In the late 1800s Fan Tan Alley was the entrance to all kinds of seedy activities-opium dens, gambling houses, brothels-all replaced by souvenir shops. Scenes from one of Mel Gibson's worst movies, "Bird on a Wire", which costarred a screeching Goldie Hawn, were filmed here.

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  • Jetgirly's Profile Photo

    Fan Tan Alley

    by Jetgirly Written Jul 30, 2006

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    Fan Tan Alley (view from Pandora Street entrance)

    Connecting Pandora Street and Fisgard Street (Chinatown), Fan Tan Alley was originally home to brothels and gambling dens. Today, it holds the North American record for "Narrowest Street". Inside the narrow alley you'll find some great shops (Heart's Content has the best collection of funky hosiery in Victoria and there is a great record store too), a little shop selling fresh noodles, and lots of ambiance (scenes from 'Bird on a Wire' were shot here). Don't miss this local gem!

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  • Albernfrau's Profile Photo

    Chinatown

    by Albernfrau Updated Jul 26, 2006

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    This is one of Canada's oldest Chinatowns. It is full of wonderful shops. You can buy so many great affordable things here. A must is Fan Tan Alley; the narrowest alley you will ever see!!! Lots of great shops exit onto it. Just walk and explore. It is a rather small area with the main area being Fisgard Street between Government and Store Street but check out the surrounding streets as well. You must try a "honeybun" at the Chinese restaurant two doors down from Fisgard and Government. You will see the chickens hanging in the window that is it. It will be the best 80 cents you ever spend!!!

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    Chinatown

    by Blatherwick Written Mar 16, 2006

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    Gate of Harmonious Interest
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    Founded in 1858, Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada. By 1911, it covered 6 city blocks, and housed approximately 4,000 people. As the community grew, Chinatown expanded to include shops, schools, herbalist stores, theatres and restaurants.

    If you enter Chinatown from Government Street, you'll pass under the Gate of Harmonious Interest, made of Taiwanese ceramic tiles and decorative panels. Check out the three-storey schol built by the Chinese Benevolent Society in the early 1900s at a time when non-Canadian Chinese kids were banned from public schools. Look for Fan Tan Alley on the south side of Fisgard Street between Nos. 545½ and 549½. At its narrowest, the street is only 0.9 m (3 ft) wide. Of course, stop and have dim sum in the morning or Chinese seafood at any time.

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