Chinese Canadian Resources

This is a page containing resources I’ve found helpful when searching for information on the Chinese in Canada. My main area of interest is Chinese Canadian immigration ~1880-1960 in Western Canada, but I will post anything I find valuable here.

Unless otherwise stated, the information will be in English.


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Asian-Canadian History, Vancouver Public Library

A great source of information on Chinese Canadian history, including the library’s Chinese Canadian Genealogy section. If the search functions fail you, a call to the librarian might do the trick.

Bamboo Shoots – Chinese Canadian legacies in BC

In 2014, the BC government apologized for its treatment of the Canadian Chinese. As a part of that apology, the BC minister for multiculturalism led this initiative to provide educational materials for the BC school curricula for grades 5 and 10. The materials include datelines and profiles of Chinese families. Worth a view.

China Collection of Genealogies, Family Search

Digitized records from the 13th century to present day, organized by province. The records are in Chinese, but the anglicized names paired with their Chinese characters may be helpful in identifying family names.

Chinese Canadian National Council “Our Stories”

A labour of love of a whole host of CCNC volunteers, with some good links.

Chinese Canadian Women, 1923-1967

From the site: “Explore over 1,000 digitized items documenting Chinese Canadian women’s history between 1923 and 1967, including oral history interviews, historical photographs, memorabilia, documents and artwork.”

Chinese Family Tree, Off the Great Wall

A must see. Explains the complicated rules governing Chinese family relations, and helped me understand – finally – why my cousins and I were supposed to be using different names to address our aunts and uncles.

Chinese Genealogy – House of Chinn

When I step off the metaphorical shores of North America and start digging around in China, I get lost just about immediately. This is a good, comprehensive site if you’d like some deeper explanations for genealogical elements. For example, I learned why all the female members of my family were named Shi. 

The (Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H.) Chung Collection, UBC

In 1999, Drs. Wallace and Madeline Chung bequeathed their vast collection of CPR and Chinese Canadian memorabilia to the University of British Columbia. Today, the Chung Collection is a rare find of digitized artifacts, an excellent search engine, and a rich trove of artifacts that are free for public viewing. The site hosts thousands of digitized records, but there is much more available for the serious researcher.

Here are the hours if you’re in Vancouver and have time to spend. Book ahead to access the collection.


Did you know that Facebook is the ideal platform for genealogy? I’m a member of a few genealogy groups that pique my interest. Check out this incredible list of Canadian Facebook groups courtesy of Gail Dever and Genealogy a la carte.

I highly recommend you try joining  a few groups that interest you, and ask a question. Or just follow the conversations as they evolve as others ask and answer questions. It’s like a realtime classroom. Here’s the link to the Africa, Asia, Pacific Genealogy group (which will most likely only work if you have a Facebook account).

Historic Places of BC – Royal BC Museum

Interactive map of significant places in Asian Canadian culture. Very, very well done.

Historical Chinese Language Materials, UBC

For those interested in high-quality, downloadable scans of the original records relating to Chinese immigration in BC. These records are in Chinese.


If you’d like a quick primer on the immigration laws affecting the Canadian Chinese, see my post here.

The Department of Immigration and Colonization – Heritage Canada

Until 1953, the Chinese living in Canada had to apply for permission to leave the country if the wished to re-enter. This requirement applied regardless of destination. These Chinese Immigration (C.I.) 9 certificates now offer a rich resource to the genealogist. When I last checked in February, 2018, there were over 42K records available. Unfortunately, they are not searchable.

Immigrants from China, 1885-1949 – Library and Archives Canada

A searchable database of records concerning Chinese immigration. From the site: “This database provides access to references to Chinese immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1885 and 1949.” Try starting out your search with the least amount of information, and bear in mind that there may be errors in the indexing or the spelling of names.

Noteworthy Historical (Asian) figures – Canadian Heritage

A quick who’s who of Asian-Canadians, from Shaun Majumder (This hour has 22 minutes) to Douglas Jung (Canada’s first Chinese Canadian MP). (In other words, it’s Asian, not only Chinese.) In my opinion, this is a good start, but it’s a little on the thin side, and I think they cheated by lumping all the Chinese Canadian veterans into one bio.

Simon Fraser University Digitized Newspaper Collection

Check out the English language Chinatown News for lighthearted reporting of the comings and goings of the Canadian Chinese. While focused on the news of Vancouver’s Chinatown, Chinatown News included other Chinatowns in Calgary, Toronto, and San Francisco.My grandparents had a subscription to the News, which was easily recognizable by its single-colour covers in green, orange, red, blue, etc. I found news on weddings, parties, births, celebrations, and other social events – a total goldmine for the genealogist. Currently available as of January 2018 are the years 1953-1966.

If you read Chinese, you’ll also be able to see The Chinese Times, the Chinese Express, and several other periodicals.

Understanding Chinese Names

A good explanation of Chinese surnames, generational names, married names, and nicknames. Ever wondered why so many Chinese women have the middle name Shi or Shee? See my post here. Chinese names rendered in English may be a wide variety of spellings, and still surprise me. For example, I only recently learned that these are the same name: Chu, Chew, Choo, and  Joe.

Village Database Search – Toi Shan, Hoi Ping, Sun Wui, Chung Shan

Bare bones, but if you have some idea of where your ancestors came from, you may be able to find some village information here. If you’d like a how to video, the House of Chinn did one here.