Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques
Toronto's First Chinatown
There are two plaques about this neighbourhood.
Both can be seen on this page.
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted October, 2007
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'.
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted August, 2007
The first recorded Chinese resident in Toronto was Sam Ching, who opened a business on Adelaide Street in 1878. This pioneer was joined by a growing number of Chinese, many of whom migrated eastward after they helped to build the Transcontinental Pacific Railway. By 1910 the Chinese in Toronto numbered over 1,000, largely concentrated in the Elizabeth Street area. Over the next seventy years the community grew, business increased and expanded. In the 1980s, over 100,000 people of Chinese origin reside in Metropolitan Toronto and are prominently represented in all aspects of community life.
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 foriegners 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 what ever happend to Sam Ching?
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