There are many excellent resources available for students and teachers of this fascinating and important history.
Discover places to visit to find out about the lives of Chinese Canadians and scroll down to find recommendations for websites, books and films.
Places to Visit
Explore this interactive map from Heritage BC that shows historic sites of interest to those studying Chinese Canadian history: https://heritagebc.ca/cultural-maps/chinese-historic-places-map/
Guide to Vancouver’s Chinatown: https://vancouver-chinatown.com/
The Chinese Canadian museum in Chinatown offers a unique historical look at the experiences of Chinese Canadians across British Columbia: https://www.chinesecanadianmuseum.ca/
Relations with First Peoples: http://www.cchsbc.ca/cedar–bamboo.html
UBC Database collection about Chinese experiences in Vancouver 1850 – 1950: http://www.library.ubc.ca/chineseinbc/index.html
Teaching resource about Chinese Immigration (particularly aimed at Grades 5 and 9): https://www.openschool.bc.ca/bambooshoots/
Royal BC Museum database collection: https://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/about/explore/centre-arrivals/chinese-canadian-history-british-columbia
Royal BC Museum Learning Portal: https://learning.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/pathways/chinese-canadian-experiences/
UBC Library database collection: https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/chinesecanadianstories
SFU Chinese Canadian History Public Education Project – A brief chronology of Chinese Canadian history: http://www.sfu.ca/chinese-canadian-history/chart_en.html#
A guided tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown: http://www.sfu.ca/chinese-canadian-history/vancouver_chinatown_en.html
An immersive, virtual walk of the 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Japantown. Available in 4 languages. https://360riotwalk.ca/
From our website resources: Ancient China Learning Series: Chinatown
From our website resources: Ancient China Learning Series: The Children of Chinatown
From our website resources: Ancient China Learning Series: Food as Medicine
Dear Canada: An Ocean Apart by Gillian Chan
Part of the “Dear Canada” novel series, this book tells the story of Chin Mei-ling who must face the con- sequences of the Head tax on her family. Separated from her mother and other siblings still in China, she and her father must come up with the money to pay for their entry. Suggested for Grade 4+
The Concubine’s Children by Denise Chong
This memoir is an account of the author’s family told from the perspective of her Chinese Canadian mother. She vividly portrays the struggles of immigrant Chinese women in B.C. at a time when Chinese men greatly outnumbered women. Suggested for Grade 6+
The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
Set in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s, this novel depicts the life of an immigrant family during the Depression as the second-generation children experience the cultural divide. Suggested for Grades 10+
Other recommended novels by Wayson Choy: All That Matters (the sequel to Jade Peony); Paper Shadows.
White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson
In this novel, Jasmine immigrates to Victoria to live with her aunt, and goes on a time traveling quest to save her family from a curse. Locations described in this book are all real places that can be visited today. Suggested for Grade 4+
Yi Fao: Speaking through Memory by Jim Wolf and Patricia Owen
This history book provides an overview of the Chinese community in New Westminster or Yi Fao meaning “second port.” It is based on the reminiscences of four key families of settlers and contains compelling photographs.
Escape to Gold Mountain by David H.T. Wong
This graphic history tells the story of Chinese immigrants to North America and the struggles they faced. It is told from the point of view of the author’s family and is based on historical documents and interviews with elders. Suggested for Grade 6+
I Am Canada: Blood and Iron by Paul Yee
This novel tells the story of a Chinese teen, Heen, who travels to Canada to work on the railway as a means of improving his family’s fortunes. Young readers are exposed to the harsh working conditions and unfair treatment of Chinese railroad workers through the eyes of Heen. Suggested for Grade 4+
Saltwater City by Paul Yee
“A text resonant with often painful first-person recollections combines with 200 photographs, most reproduced for the first time, to form a chronological portrait of the community from its earliest beginnings to the present.” A wonderful resource of primary sources to be used in the classroom or as a research tool for older students.
Tales from Gold Mountain by Paul Yee
This collection of tales groups together eight original folk stories giving readers a sense of the hardships faced by Chinese immigrants to North America. Each tale is relatively short, but each one deals with some very important themes such as prejudice, racism and dishonesty. Suggested for Grade 7+
Other Children/YA fiction by Paul Yee: The Bone Collector’s Son, Ghost Train, The Curses of Third Uncle.
Journeys of Hope: Challenging Discrimination and Building on Vancouver Chinatown’s Legacies by Henry Yu
Chinese migrants arrived in what is now known as Canada as early as 1788. Their contributions were often forgotten as part of a long history of racism and discrimination in Canada. Journeys of Hope: Challenging Discrimination and Building on Vancouver Chinatown’s Legacies captures the story of how early Chinese migrants helped transform societies around the world, and how Vancouver’s Chinatown and other Chinatowns throughout Canada and the Pacific region are the living legacies of that transformation.
This short video sheds light on the dangers Chinese migrant workers faced building the CPR in their new country.
The Chinese Violin
This 8 minute animated short tells the story of a father and a daughter moving to Canada from China, bringing with them their precious violin. Based on the illustrated children’s book.
This 48 minute long documentary produced for the National Film Board of Canada, describes the involvement of the director’s Chinese Canadian grandfather in World War II. She also uncovers a legacy of racism and discrimination against BC’s Chinese Canadian community.
In the Shadow of Gold Mountain
This 43 minute National Film Board documentary records director Karen Cho’s travels from Montreal to Vancouver to find and interview remaining survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act.
Canadian Steel, Chinese Grit
This documentary delves into the history of the Chinese workers without whom Canada’s national railway could never have been realized. There is an accompanying PDF in English, French, and Chinese.
Cedar and Bamboo
Cedar and Bamboo explores the relationships between people with Chinese and Aboriginal roots. Through the telling of the stories of 4 people, the difficult circumstances surrounding early Chinese immigrants and local Indigenous people are revealed.
All Our Father’s Relations
Locally produced, award-winning film about the journey of the Grant siblings, who were raised in the Musqueam traditions of their mother, to China to discover their father’s roots. The DVD is available to buy.