Physical Segregation


Most Westerners despised the Chinese and wanted to segregate them from the host society. In Victoria, Nanaimo, and Kamloops, for example, the city government forced them to confine themselves to a niche on the fringe of the city centre and called it “Chinatown.” It was conceived by Westerners as a place of Chinese evils where no decent people would enter. However, the Chinese did not mind being segregated because they liked living together on one or two streets which they called “Tong Yan Gai” (Tang People’s

Street) where they could follow their customs and also feel safe and secure from abuse. Even after death, the Chinese were segregated from Westerners. Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, for example, was divided into 21 blocks of which Block L was set apart for the burials of “Aborigines and Mongolians.” The Burial Records reveal that the first Chinese person interred there on 18 March 1873 was listed as “Chinaman No.1” and subsequent Chinese burial plots designated as “Chinaman No.2,” “Chinaman No.3” and so on. The Chinese responded by establishing a traditional altar in Block L and Chinese characters were used to inscribe Chinese names on the tombs; Block L was referred to as the Chinese Cemetery.