Ashcroft’s historic Chinese cemetery is recognized in a new book celebrating the Chinese legacy in B.C. Photo: Barbara Roden.

New book celebrates legacy of Chinese settlers in B.C.

Ashcroft’s Chinese cemetery and the Lytton Joss House among the sites and people recognized

For many decades, Chinese Canadians in British Columbia endured hardship and legislated discrimination. A new book that was recently published by the provincial government aims to share this important story to help redress the historic wrong.

Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia acknowledges the painful history of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia, and celebrates their contributions to the province’s growth and success.

The book profiles 96 British Columbians of Chinese descent. Entrepreneurs, philanthropists, politicians, medical researchers, athletes, artists, community allies, and more are featured.

Through their personal stories, the book highlights the many ways that the Chinese community has contributed to, and helped shape, the landscape of British Columbia, from early settler days until the present.

Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia recognizes and celebrates the extraordinary achievements of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia,” says Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism.

“This book delivers an important narrative about our collective history that must be told. It is a valuable source for all British Columbians to learn more about the contributions of Chinese Canadians, and reminds us of our commitment to ensure that legislated discriminatory practices, and other inequitable practices, never happen again in B.C.”

The richly illustrated publication is a production of the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council, established by the provincial government in 2014. The book is one of several legacy projects—one of which is the altar in Ashcroft historic Chinese cemetery—commemorating the provincial government’s formal apology for historical wrongs to Chinese Canadians on May 15, 2014.

A picture and description of Ashcroft’s Chinese cemetery, with the altar, features in the book. Also featured are Browning’s Flat between Lillooet and Lytton, which was extensively worked for gold by Chinese immigrants, and Lytton’s Joss House, the site of which was declared a historic place with provincial significance by the provincial government and is included in the B.C. Register of Historic Places. The site now houses the Lytton Chinese History Museum.

“I am proud of the work we’ve achieved to recognize and celebrate the struggle of the Chinese community in B.C. against the discrimination they faced, and how in their struggles they forced British Columbia to be a more inclusive society,” says Henry Yu, co-chair of the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council.

“We’re very pleased these stories will be shared with all British Columbians as an acknowledgement of the past, and hope they will contribute to strengthen British Columbia’s diverse society.”

In 1788, the first Chinese workers to come to British Columbia landed in Nuu-chah-nulth territory (Nootka Sound). They were part of Capt. John Meares’ expedition to build the first year-round, non-Indigenous settlement. Today British Columbia is home to more than 460,000 Chinese Canadians, 11 per cent of B.C.’s population.

More than 125 notable members of B.C.’s Chinese-Canadian community gathered on May 11, 2018, at a special event marking the publication, including a number of surviving family members of early Chinese settlers to B.C.

Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia has been provided to schools, cultural centres, museums, and libraries throughout the province. As well, eBook and Print-on-Demand copies may be purchased from major online book retailers or through the publisher in eBook, paperback, and hardback formats (go to for details).

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