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Chinese-Canadian Genealogy

Resources for Canadians of Chinese origin who wish to learn more about their personal connection to Chinese-Canadian history.

Museums and Archives

Historic government records are held in national, provincial and municipal repositories. Individuals, families and organizations also frequently donate private records to museums and archives. Archives' across Canada have collaborated to create the Canadian Archival Information Network (CAIN). The network allows user to simultaneously search the holdings of many archival repositories in order to identify materials that may be of interest.

The list in the following tabs (above) is primarily derived from CAIN. It identifies Canadian museums and archives with records in their collections that may be of interest to Chinese-Canadian genealogists. Specific record collections at each repository are identified, with links to their archival descriptions in the CAIN database.

The collections vary greatly in content and scope. Some relate to individuals and families, others to organizations and businesses. Some include items that may allow the researcher to specifically identify an individual; others will be more useful in providing clues or background material for genealogical and historical research. Formats vary and include documents, photographs and audiotapes.

The list is selective and emphasizes older historical materials found in Canadian archives and museums. A search of CAIN using terms such as Chinese and Chinatown will yield fuller results, although some items may be quite recent and of limited genealogical value.

Currently, the list focuses on resources held by archives' in B.C. and Alberta, and in the collections of Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. Other provinces and territories have been surveyed, but little material relating to Chinese-Canadians has been identified, and most of it is recent and of little or no genealogical value.

If you prefer to do your own CAIN search, these search tips may be useful. In most cases, records have not been microfilmed and it is necessary to visit the repository where they are held in order to review them.

Canadian Archival Information Network - Search Tips

Always make your terms as specific as possible when starting a search. If you do not get results, then broaden the search terms.

To search the Canadian Archival Information Network for materials that may be useful for Chinese-Canadian genealogical research, type a term into the search box, such as a family or business name, e.g.

  • Lee Chong Company
  • Mah Sze Hun

To identify records associated with a specific city, town or village, use a search strategy based on the following example:

  • Chinese Nanaimo

The search screen also allows you to narrow your search by province or territory. Enter the term "Chinese" in the search box, and then click on the check-box for the appropriate province or territory.

Finally, you can obtain a large set of results to browse by simply entering the term Chinese in the search box.

In most cases, it would be necessary in most cases to visit the archives or museum in person in order to view the records.

In some cases, there are restrictions on access to records. Details are usually provided in the archival descriptions.

Barkerville Historic Town and Resource Centre

  • Barkerville Historic Town Chinese Papers CollectionLee Chong Company Fonds

Note: Information and in some cases photographs of specific items in the Barkerville Historic Town and Resource Centre are available in the Historical Chinese-Language Materials in British Columbia electronic inventory. 

British Columbia Archives

  • David C. Lew Fonds
  • Kwong Lee and Company Fonds
  • Tye Chung Lung and Company Fonds
  • Wing Chong Company Fonds
  • Yee Lun Ark Ltd. Fonds

Bulkley Valley Museum

  • Smithers Bakery Fonds

Campbell River Museum and Archives

City of Vancouver Archives

  • Chinese Students' Athletic Association Fonds
  • Lambert M. Sung Fonds
  • Kuo Kong Silk Company Fonds
  • Sam Kee Company Fonds
  • Yip Family and Yip Sang Ltd. Fonds

City of Victoria Archives

  • George Y. Lee Fonds
  • Lim Li Bang Fonds
  • Roy S.T. Chan Fonds
  • Victoria Canada-Chinese Friendship Association Fonds
  • Winnett A. Brand Fonds

Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives

  • Pekin Restaurant Fonds

Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation

  • Herbert Simpson Fonds

Cumberland Museum

Fort Steele Heritage Town Archives

  • Dave Kay Photograph Collection

Kelowna Public Archives

  • Chinese Community Collection

Langley Centennial Museum

  • Kwong Lee Trading Company Fonds

Nanaimo Community Archives

  • Chu Yet Quai Fonds
  • Kin Lee Jung Fonds: 1930-1994
  • Quong Jan Yip Fonds
  • William and Mary Cartwright Fonds: 1869-1904
  • Wah Hing Land Company Fonds
  • Wong Family Fonds

Note: Information and in some cases photographs of specific items in the Nanaimo Community Archives are available in the Historical Chinese-Language Materials in British Columbia electronic inventory.

New Westminster Museum and Archives

  • The New Westminster Museum and Archives has records of the New Westminster Chinese Nationalist League (Kuomingtang) and the New Westminster Chinese Benevolent Association. The fonds include cemetery records, minute books, membership rolls, and other items. Virtually all of the material is in Chinese. Both fonds are unprocessed. For more information, contact the New Westminster Museum and Archives.

Quesnel and District Museum and Archives

  • Chinese Textual Records Collection
  • Department of Immigration and Colonization Fonds

University of British Columbia Archives

  • Chinese Canadian Research Collection

University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Collections

  • Britannia Beach Mining and Smelting Company Ltd. Fonds
  • Chock On Fonds
  • Foon Sien Wong Fonds
  • Lee Family Fonds
  • Thomas Whaun Fonds
  • Wah Shun Company Fonds
  • Won Alexander Cumyow Fonds

University of Victoria Archives

  • Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association Fonds
  • Lee Hung Fonds

City of Edmonton Archives

  • Armstrong Drugstore Fonds

Glenbow Archives

  • Ban Seng Hoe Chinese-Calgarian Oral History Project Collection
  • Chinese-Canadian Heritage Program Collection
  • James Mah Poy Family Fonds
  • J. McKinley Cameron Fonds
  • Judy Lo Fonds
  • Kong Family Fonds
  • Oi Kwan Foundation Fonds

Esplanade Archives [Medicine Hat]

  • Robert James Costar Collection
  • Roy Wilson Fonds

Library and Archives Canada

  • Chinese Canadian Association Fonds
  • Chinese Freemasons Society, Cumberland British Columbia Fonds
  • Concordia University Fonds
  • Ernest C. Mark Fonds
  • Leung Doo Wong Fonds
  • Yee Yee Tam Fonds
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