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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.


The Chinese community in Canada has a long history dating back to the 19th century. The first Canadian-born baby of Chinese origin, Won Alexander Cumyow, was born in Port Douglas, B.C. in 1861. There are many resources available to Canadians of Chinese origin who would like to explore their personal connection to Chinese-Canadian history. The purpose of this research guide is to provide tools and information to support such research.

The initial phase of this project emphasized Chinese pioneers and records in B.C. For decades B.C. was the province of residence for a majority of Chinese immigrants, and many of the records created as Chinese settlement expanded to other parts of the country during later decades are still subject to privacy regulations. However, additional funding from Library and Archives Canada has made it possible to extend the scope of the research guide to include more information relating to other provinces.

Some Chinese did not come to Canada directly from China but came by way of other countries. For information on Chinese communities outside China and Canada, see Chinese Diaspora. Because there was a considerable amount of Chinese transmigration between the U.S. and Canada, some researchers may be especially interested in exploring Chinese-American connections and roots. This topic is explored separately on our Chinese-American Genealogy page.

The language of the guide  is English, but references to Chinese-language documents, records and websites are included. For more information see Chinese-Language Resources. Unless otherwise indicated, romanizations of Chinese characters throughout this guide are based on the Pinyin system.


The guide is divided into 7 major sections:

Presents principles and strategies commonly used by genealogists, and explains how to use standard genealogy charts. Printable charts are included.

History and Pioneers
Reviews milestones in Chinese-Canadian history and briefly looks at Migration and Settlement. Also links to stories of Chinese-Canadian pioneers and provides information on current heritage projects.

Chinese Names
Introduces a challenging, complex subject that may have a significant impact on your research prospects.

Family Sources
Discusses interview strategies and suggests possible questions. Looks at family heirlooms and clan and district associations.

Immigration Records
Introduces a variety of sources  that may include records of immigrants to Canada from China

Other Records
Introduces other sources in which information about individuals and families may be found, including, civil registration, newspaper announcements, directories, military records, cemetery records, and other sources. Examples are provided, together with information on how to access the actual records themselves.

Back to China
Explores research possibilities in China itself.


Stay up-to-date with new developments in the rapidly changing world of genealogy with the help of our semi-annual Genealogical Resources eNewsletter.


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.