Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques
Toronto's First Chinatown
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted October, 2007
This set of two plaques, located just to the west of the City Hall building, was installed by Heritage Toronto in 2007. [Note: Plaques removed temporarily as of June 2013 due to Nathan Philips Square renovations.] Here's what they have to say:
Plaque coordinates: 43.653083 -79.384683
The first Chinese resident recorded in Toronto was Sam Ching, the owner of a hand laundry business on Adelaide Street in 1878. Though immigration to Canada directly from China was restricted after 1885, Ching was eventually joined by Chinese men who migrated from western Canada after helping to build the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway.
Between 1900 and 1925, Toronto's first Chinese community took shape here, around Elizabeth Street which one ran all the way south to Queen Street. 'Chinatown' was a bustling commercial and residential area that included restaurants, grocery stores, and traditional clan associations.
This first Chinatown thrived until the late 1940s, when the City of Toronto began its controversial expropriation of much of the neighbourhood to make room for a new city hall and the future Nathan Phillips Square. Demolition finally took place in 1955. Some Chinese businesses could not afford to re-locate, and closed. Others packed up and moved west along Dundas Street to Spadina Avenue where they became the heart of today's 'Old Chinatown'.
> Posted June 18, 2013
I can't find this plaque.Please tell me the exact place. [Editor's Response: They may have been moved. I'll investigate.]
> Posted January 5, 2012
Thanks so much for this! I am doing a project on Chinatown and this has helped a lot.
> Posted November 25, 2011
Toronto seems to have a history of fear of foreigners. First its was the Jewish community (Christy pits riots) and the unfair removal of the Chinese community properties and yet we omit these fact on the plaques.
> Posted June 26 2008
This a great piece of history and whatever happened to Sam Ching?
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