The Chinese Community in Toronto


The history of the Chinese community in Toronto is rich with stories drawn from over 150 years of life in Canada.

Sam Ching, a laundryman, is the first Chinese resident recorded in Toronto’s city directory of 1878. A few years later, in 1881, there were 10 Chinese and no sign of a Chinatown. Today, with no less than seven Chinatowns and half a million people, Chinese Canadians have become the second-largest visible minority in the Greater Toronto Area.

Stories, photographs, newspaper reports, maps, and charts will bring to life the little-known and dark history of the Chinese community. Despite the early years of anti-Chinese laws, negative public opinion, and outright racism, the Chinese and their organizations have persevered to become an integral participant in all walks of life. The Chinese Community in Toronto shows how the Chinese make a significant contribution to the vibrant and diverse mosaic that makes Toronto one of the most multicultural cities in the world.


The Chinese in Toronto from 1878 is indeed a stellar example of a people’s history at its best

Asian Affairs (US), (August, 2013)

The Chinese Community in Toronto: Then and Now does not focus exclusively on Toronto. Chan frequently addresses the broader topic of the Chinese history in Canada as she describes the waves of Chinese immigration to Canada as a whole and the shameful exclusion period when discriminatory federal law prevented Chinese men from bringing their wives and children to Canada.

Canadian Materials

This non-fiction account of an important section of Canadian history is well-suited for classroom use due to its focused chapters and informative subheadings. Students may enjoy the use of historical photographs and personal accounts of individuals.

Resource Links

About the Author

Arlene Chan

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Arlene Chan photo

Arlene Chan

Arlene Chan is a third-generation Chinese Canadian who was born in Toronto and spent her early years in "Old Chinatown," at Elizabeth and Dundas Streets, where she helped at her parents' restaurant. Her mother, Jean Lumb, was the first Chinese-Canadian woman to receive the Order of Canada. Arlene and her husband live in Toronto.