The splendid lion-bedecked Gate of Harmonious Interest marks the entrance to the small Chinatown in Victoria, BC, the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America, after Chinatown in San Francisco. The history of Chinatown goes back to the mid-nineteenth century with the mass influx of gold miners from California to what is now British Columbia in 1858.
Victoria’s revitalized Chinatown remains an active place for Chinese-Canadians and is a popular destination for local residents and visitors alike. Once a ghetto for newcomers, Chinatown is now a heritage area, a vibrant commercial community, and an intriguing part of Victoria’s past and present.
Some of the tourist attractions of Chinatown are the old Chinese School, the famously narrow Fan Tan Alley, and its ornate gate on Government Street at Fisgard Street, the Gate of Harmonious Interest, which was built in Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, Eastern China. Be sure to visit the tiny shops and studios on Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada – only 90 centimetres wide at its narrowest point (35 inches).
The focus of Chinatown is the 500-600 block of Fisgard Street, but many of Chinatown’s most historical and important places are out of public view, like the Tam Kung Buddhist Temple, which is the oldest of its kind in Canada.