Fan Tan Alley exhibit connects Victoria visitors with history of Canada’s oldest Chinatown

Tzu-I Chung, curator of the exhibit, explains the history of Fan Tan Alley and points to a map from 1891. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)Tzu-I Chung, curator of the exhibit, explains the history of Fan Tan Alley and points to a map from 1891. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Alan Lowe, chair of Victoria Chinatown Museum Society and a member of the board of directors for the Chinese Canadian Museum, says he hopes this exhibit will help lead to Victoria’s own Chinese Canadian Museum. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)Alan Lowe, chair of Victoria Chinatown Museum Society and a member of the board of directors for the Chinese Canadian Museum, says he hopes this exhibit will help lead to Victoria’s own Chinese Canadian Museum. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

A new pop-up exhibit in Fan Tan Alley aims to connect passersby to the history of the area.

The exhibit features a map from 1891 that highlights Fan Tan Alley, also known as “the bank street,” as an economic centre that connected the trans-Pacific trade to the interior. During this time, the opium trade was still legal and brought the city “a lot of revenue at the time,” according to Tzu-I Chung, curator of the exhibit.

Across from the map, is a digital showcase of a handmade lantern that was displayed at the Chinese Freemason’s headquarters – which is one of the oldest Chinese organizations in the country, dating back to 1863 – in Victoria and likely at local Lantern Festivals during the 1930s and 1940s.

READ ALSO: New exhibit at Point Ellice House examines history of waste, water and privilege

“[The lantern] is based on this very, very old – thousands of years old – way of heating up from below and then using that heat to make the plate revolve,” explains Chung, emphasizing the craftsmanship needed to connect the moving parts of the lantern.

Chung says the goal of the exhibit is to make people stop and think about the connection of that place to the history, along with seeing the amazing art and crafts from that time. The lantern is in a digital format because it is extremely fragile and not in a condition to be on display for long periods of time.

READ ALSO: History app uses ‘then and now’ photographs of Victoria

On July 16, the province announced a $10 million investment to establish the first Chinese Canadian Museum in the country, which will include a provincial hub located in Vancouver Chinatown, along with multiple regional hubs.

Alan Lowe, chair of Victoria Chinatown Museum Society and a member of the board of directors for the Chinese Canadian Museum, says he hopes this exhibit will lead “us to our own Chinese Canadian Museum in the oldest Chinatown in the country.”

“This [exhibit] will give people a taste of what the quality of exhibits will be like in our future museum, which will hopefully be established in the near future,” he says, although it’s hard to say exactly when that could be. “A this point we’re working on a business plan, and then we’ll be looking at how we raise the funds.”

Chung wants the exhibit to help see the anti-Asian racism that was felt and the reasoning for Chinese people getting there start in that neighbourhood.

She explains how back in the 1800s, the Johnson Street bridge was a ravine just outside of Fort Victoria, and because of discrimination, Chinese people settled outside of the fort.

“This type of small exhibit is a beginning, we’re really hoping that we can share more stories where you can actually understand people’s struggles,” she says.

The exhibit officially opens on July 24.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Chinese museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police arrested three men following a double stabbing April 19. The two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Three arrested after double stabbing in Victoria

Two people sent to hospital after being stabbed, hit with bear spray

Club Phoenix Fitness in Langford is the first Island business to be ordered closed by the provincial workplace closure order put into effect April 11. It will be closed until at least April 29. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
Langford gym first Island business to be closed by public health order

Workplace closure order can now close businesses with three or more COVID-19 cases

Father Marinaldo Batista, who served at Catholic parishes in Saanich and Sooke, died April 1 in Brazil from complications of COVID-19. (Facebook/St. Elizabeth Church)
Brazilian priest who served in Saanich and Sooke dies from COVID-19

Father Marinaldo Batista, 53, went to Brazil to visit his parents and died there April 1

A sewage pipe is pulled along Niagara Street in James Bay in 2018 as part of the Capital Regional District’s wastewater treatment plant project. Over the next 10 years, the city will complete 78 new underground infrastructure projects, upgrading sewage, stormwater and water main pipes. (Black Press Media file photo)
Construction begins on Victoria’s 10-year pipe replacement project

78 underground infrastructure projects will cost $53.8 million

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Alex Mah of Chemainus spends a sunny day at Kin Beach reading to daughter Beatrice Mah. 3. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Vancouver Island’s mini-summer poised to fade

Cooler and damper this weekend, summer-like conditions not likely to return until late June

Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigator Mark Jonah probes the scene of a blaze that destroyed two apartments on Sunday, April 18. The cause of the blaze has not been determined. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Arson suspect arrested after apartment fire in Nanaimo

35-year-old man arrested for allegedly starting fire lived in the complex

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Small wildfire burning in difficult terrain near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating, but confirms blaze is human-caused

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

Most Read