Chinese Canadian Archive Exhibit Unveiled at Toronto Reference Library
A beautiful red-colour-based Chinese-style showcase was recently established on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library. With 12 treasures from the Chinese Canadian Archive standing on black shelves and four floor-to-ceiling vinyl prints on the side, this striking exhibit attracts much attention from visitors and passers-by.
The displayed items, selected from multiple families’ archives, reflect Chinese Torontonian’s lives, successes and struggles in the early days.
David Lee (李耀宸) came to Toronto as a clergyman in 1947 and served as the Minister of Toronto Chinese United Church from 1956 to 1979. Here he is shown visiting the Chong family.
Vuong Jin Sha (王金沙) and Hong Yu Man （洪玉滿）are shown as the patriarch and matriarch of the Vuong family. The two vertical scrolls record that the family originated from Tong'an, Fujian (China). The Vuong family lived in Vietnam and immigrated to Canada before Sino-Vietnam War in 1978.
In June 1960, representatives from Chinese communities across Canada met with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in Ottawa. The delegation protested against raids on Chinese Canadian homes, restaurants and businesses conducted by the RCMP searching for "illegal immigrants". They requested improvements to Canada’s immigration laws and petitioned to facilitate family reunification. William C. Wong stands third to the left directly behind the Prime Minister. Jean Lumb, the first Chinese Canadian woman to receive the order of Canada, sits on Mr. Diefenbaker’s left. William C. Wong and Jean Lumb were significant figures in Chinese community of Toronto.
This identification was issued to Ruth Ma to certify her registration in 1924 under the Chinese Immigration Act. The Act, passed in 1923, required all Chinese people to register and carry photo identification as evidence of their compliance with the Act. The document clearly stated “This certificate does not establish legal status in Canada”.
Wong Wun Sun Association (also known as Wong Association), second National Convention in 1953. The Canadian government provided no settlement services to early Chinese immigrants so these Chinese associations, known as "tongs" (公所) or "clan associations" (宗親會), arranged them. They helped send remittances to China, found lodging and employment, and provided support and companionship.
This beautiful exhibit would not be possible without support from the Chinese community. Since its launch in 2016 the Archive continually receives inquires, suggestions and positive comments from the public. We encourage you to check boxes tucked away in your attic or basement; they might be something that record the history of your family, therefore of the Chinese community, that following generations will appreciate and learn from. The Archive is not built by the Library, but by the community itself.