Chinese Canadian Archive: From Chop Suey to Peking Duck

July 4, 2016 | Suk Yin

Comments (13)

Chef Kam Ing
Source: Toronto Star Archives

From chop suey to Peking duck

"Chop suey" translates as "mixed bits" and was a popular dish among early Chinese immigrants and Caucasian diners. Corresponding with the dynamic growth of various Chinese populations in Toronto, the variety of Chinese cuisine has grown dramatically and, today, we have a multitude of choice – from chop suey to Peking duck and everything in between – according to our preference.




Mr. Lee Hong's laundry, 48 Elizabeth Street
Mr. Lee Hong's laundry, 48 Elizabeth Street 1912
Series 372, sub-series 55, item 43,
City of Toronto Archives

Did you know?

The first Chinese resident recorded in Toronto was Sam Ching in 1878. He ran a laundrat 9 Adelaide St. East. According to the 2011 Census, there are over 308,000 people of Chinese descent living in Toronto, representing 12 per cent of the city’s population.




Lion dance York Univ Archive
Source: York University Archives

Chinese Canadian Archive

In its 2016-2019 Strategic Plan, the Toronto Public Library identified a goal to create community connections through cultural experiences and, to help achieve this goal, called for the establishment of a Chinese Canadian Archive.The Archive will document the rich history of Chinese Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area from 1878 to the present by building a collection of individual and organizational records, photographs, documents, diaries, memoirs – in print or digital form – to document Chinese Canadians’ daily lives and their community spirit, celebrations, struggles, successes, failures, dreams and contributions to Canada. By collecting these records, we want to record the presence of the Chinese in Toronto, illustrate their part in forming Toronto’s rich cultural mosaic, and make this information available to future generations.


Photo courtesy of Denise Chong


Archive in your attic

Valuable family records and photos could be hiding in shoeboxes or tucked away in attics, basements and closets. When de-cluttering your home, be sure to look before disposing of the contents. You might be pleasantly surprised to find family treasures hidden inside.

If you have records, photos or other materials that document your family’s part in building Toronto’s Chinese community, we believe the Toronto Reference Library is the best place to permanently maintain and preserve your precious family records.



Photo courtesy of Arlene Chan

Contact us

Each family archive is unique. We would love to hear from you to discuss how we can work together to preserve your collection. 


You can contact the archive by emailing Suk Yin at [email protected]