Documents & Records
Searching for information about your family in published and archival documents is one of the core activities of genealogical research.
Information may be found in a wide range of documents and records. This section explores key archival and published sources for Chinese-Canadian genealogy. It also describes some resources, which although generally very useful to genealogists, offer very little information relating to individuals of Chinese origin. It is hoped that the information provided here will be helpful when planning research and decided where to focus one's efforts.
The Documents & Records introduced in this section were created in Canada, usually by governments (e.g. head tax records) or by independent organizations (e.g. churches, directory companies). Most are English. Chinese genealogists, however, will inevitably want to explore Chinese-language sources at some point. For information about Chinese-language records both in Canada and back in China, see Chinese-Language Resources.
Chinese immigrants worked on the construction of the B.C. section of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s.
Naturalization and Citizenship
Chinese could apply to become naturalized British subjects or -- after 1947 -- Canadian citizens.
Records of births, marriages and deaths collected by the government are an excellent source of family information.
Historical census records (1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911) are open to the public, and contain detailed personal information about people living at the time, including members of the Chinese community.
Churches of several denominations ministered to the Chinese community. Their records may provide more clues about your family.
Directories are another good source of family information. In some cases there are Chinese community directories.
Documentation of transactions involving both Crown and private land may also tell you more about your ancestor.
People of Chinese origin joined the Canadian Armed Forces and served in both the First and Second World Wars.
Both mainstream and Chinese newspapers are an excellent source of information for genealogists. Birth, marriage, death announcements and obituaries are especially helpful.
Other Government Records
Examples of the wide variety of other government records that may provide information and clues for genealogists.
Wills and Probate
Estate files often include the names of family members and other information.
Cemetery Records and Monumental Inscriptions
Many Chinese are buried in B.C. cemeteries.
Chinese Consular Records
The Chinese Consulate kept records of Chinese people residing in Canada.
Further information about ancestors may be found in a variety of libraries and archives across Canada.
The Vancouver Public Library acknowledges the participation of the Chinese-Canadian Historical Society of B.C. and members of Vancouver's Chinese-Canadian community. Many individuals have contributed time, knowledge and ideas. We particularly thank Loretta Chow, Ray Chow, Gordon Mark, Trev Sue-a-Quan, Ed Wickberg, Larry Wong, May Yan-Mountain, Gail Yip, and Eleanor Yuen for their enthusiasm and support.
The Vancouver Public Library Trust was generous in providing the financial support necessary to develop and launch the initial phase of this website.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of Library and Archives Canada, whose contribution has allowed us to expand and develop the content of the Chinese-Canadian Genealogy Website.