Victoria's Chinatown has the distinction of being the oldest Chinatown in Canada. It is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco.
Victoria's Chinatown grew up to house the many Chinese miners who flocked there when gold was found in the Frazer River Valley. It increased in size again when Chinese workers arrived to build the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Victoria's Chinatown has a lovely traditional gate called the Gate of Harmonious Interest. Chinatown is also home to Victoria's narrowest street Fan Tan Alley. This alley was once home to many opium dens then when opium became illegal it became home to gambling dens. The alley is in fact called after a gambling game fan tan - that used to take place here. As gambling dens were illegal the alley had watchmen at both ends and the gambling dens had secret escape routes in case of raids.
Sun Yat Sen the father of Modern China came to Victoria to build up support from the Chinese community here for the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty.
Such as any bigger cities the Chinese always has their own community and town and once you stroll around you'll have the feeling that you are in China
In Victoria walking in China town is totally different than elsewhere, because the story still behind and they have proven it to put marked on the early immigrant in the city on the wall it's incredibly quite a story
The first Chinese immigrants came to Victoria in 1858 because of the gold rush none of them intended to stay permanently in Canada they figured on striking it rich and going back to China, some did most did not, initially, they set up tents and shacks along a ravine, now Johnson St., and as more Chinese people arrived, the community expanded to include stores, tailor shops, theatres and schools, by 1880, Victoria’s Chinatown formed the largest Chinese Community in all of Canada
That is why many of the Chinese people all over Canada has their own a hotels, motels
You'll find them not only in China town they are all over the country managed their own business
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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!