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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.


There are many types of directories, including social registers, membership lists and telephone books.

Some of the most useful directory resources for Chinese-Canadian genealogists are Provincial and City Directories and Chinese Telephone Directories.

Provincial and city directories are a very useful source of information for genealogists, although early listings for Chinese mainly correspond to the small number who had established businesses. Most of the Chinese population was transient and is not well represented in early directories.

This section provides detailed information on Chinese residents listed in B.C. directories.

General information on directory research for other provinces is available on the Vancouver Public Library's genealogy Directories page and on the Canadian Directories Collection page from Library and Archives Canada.

Ancestry Library Edition includes the Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s database, which indexes Chinese (and other) residents listed in a number of early Canadian directories. Ancestry Library Edition is available for free at all VPL locations. Non-VPL users can access these records using Ancestry Library Edition's private subscription version,

Note that with the exception of B.C., listings for Chinese are unlikely to be found in pre-1900 provincial and city directories, as the vast majority of the Chinese population was concentrated in Canada's westernmost province during that period.

British Columbia Provincial and City Directories

The first directory published in the province of British Columbia was the First Victoria Directory compiled and published by Edward Mallandaine in 1860.

B.C. provincial directories are arranged geographically: by city, town, or region. The listing of residents for each town is sometimes selective, comprising only prominent citizens and the members of professions and trades.

Early B.C. provincial directories frequently included separate listings of Chinese residents. These listings represented only a tiny proportion of the Chinese population - mainly business owners. Separate Chinese listings in B.C. provincial directories (between 1860 and 1940) are available for the following cities, towns, and regions:

  • Ashcroft
  • Cariboo District
  • Cranbrook
  • Cumberland
  • Duncan
  • Fernie
  • Fort Steele
  • Grand Forks
  • Greenwood
  • Kamloops
  • Kaslo
  • Nanaimo
  • New Westminster
  • North Vancouver
  • Port Alberni
  • Port Guichon
  • Revelstoke
  • Rossland
  • Salmon Arm
  • Spence's Bridge
  • Vancouver
  • Vernon
  • Victoria
  • Wellington
  • Yale

B.C. city directories were usually quite comprehensive. Chinese residents were incorporated into the main alphabetical and street listings. In some cases, however, the alphabetical listings identified them simply as "Chinese", "Chinese dwelling", or "Orientals".


At the Vancouver Public Library

The Special Collections Department at the Vancouver Public Library has a very extensive collection of historical B.C. provincial and city directories.

The following two bibliographies, also available in the Special Collections Department, indicate directories and page numbers on which separate listings of Chinese residents in B.C. communities can be found:

A Researcher's Guide to British Columbia Nineteenth Century Directories: A Bibliography & Index (1988)
Lutz, John S., ed. and Young, George, comp.
Ref. 971.199X Y72r

  • See index under "Chinese residents" (p. 49-50)

The Researcher's Guide to British Columbia Directories, 1901-1940: A Bibliography & Index (1992)
Young, George and Lutz, John S.
Ref. 971.1X Y72r

  • See index under "Chinese residents" (p. 77-78)

Many provincial and city directories did not include separate Chinese sections. In these directories, Chinese people are found in the main listing. In some cases, however, they are simply identified as "Chinese", "Chinese dwelling", or "Orientals".


Very little B.C. directory information has been transcribed, indexed or digitized into electronic format, and the number of records relating to Chinese people is extremely limited. A few have been identified in Directories (Directories is part of the viHistory site, which hosts a large number of databases on the history of Vancouver Island). Directories provides searchable directory listings for the cities of Nanaimo and Victoria for 1882 and 1892, and a digitized 1902 Victoria City street directory.

The British Columbia City Directories, 1860-1955 provides access to digitized images from a number of British Columbia provincial, regional and city directories. Although not a searchable database, browsing by surname or the name of a business is possible. Images can be downloaded as high-resolution TIFF and PDF files.

Ancestry Library Edition includes the Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s database, which indexes Chinese (and other) residents listed in Herderson's British Columbia Gazetteer and Directory and Mining Companies for 1900-1901. Ancestry Library Edition is available for free at all VPL locations. Non-VPL users can access Ancestry Library Edition using its private subscription version,

The Chinese community has published Chinese telephone directories for a number of years. These directories are in both English and Chinese. Titles have changed over the years.


At the Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library has a collection of Chinese directories dating back to the late 1930s.

Titles include:

Chinese Business Telephone Directory, Greater Vancouver
Ref. CB380 C53ch

  • Holdings:
    • 1986-1987
    • 1989-1995
    • 1997
    • 2002
    • 2007

Chinese Business Telephone Directory (B.C.)
Ref. CB380 C53cha

  • Holdings:
    • 1993-1996
    • 1999-2002

Chinese Directory & Telephone book
Ref. 971.199 C53c

  • The title of this publication has varied over the years.
  • Holdings:
    • 1937
    • 1945
    • 1947-1948
    • 1951-1953
    • 1955
    • 1958-1964
    • 1966
    • 1968
    • 1970
    • 1973-1983
    • 1985
    • 1987
    • 1989-1996
    • 1997
    • 1999-2004

Chinese Yearbook & Directory
Ref. 971.199 C539

  • Holdings: 1962/1963

Chinese Yellow Pages of Vancouver
Ref. 971.199 C5392

  • 1992/93

At the University of British Columbia Library

The University of British Columbia Library has the following directories.

Chinese Directory, Saskatchewan

  • Holdings: 1964

Chinese Directory of Victoria, B.C.

  • Holdings:
    • 1942
    • 1947

Chinese Directory of Calgary-Lethbridge

  • Holdings: 1973

Vancouver & B.C. Mainland Chinese Telephone Directory

  • Holdings: 1955-1994 (some missing)

Vancouver Island Chinese Directory & Telephone Book

  • Holdings:
    • 1955-1958
    • 1960-1964
    • 1966-1971

At Library and Archives Canada

The Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) collections include Chinese directories. Directories are not available for interlibrary loan, so if you are unable to visit the library in person, you may need to hire a researcher or contact the library.

A brief listing of LAC Chinese directory holdings is provided below. Please note that titles varied over the years. The most recent is listed. Notes have been added to indicate scope changes. The range of years doesn't mean that every year is represented or holdings are complete.

For more information on each title search the AMICUS database.

Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Surrounding Communities Chinese Telephone Directory

  • Holdings: 1961-1992

Chinese Directory. Northern Ontario

  • Holdings:
    • 1964-1966
    • 1970-1971

Note: The earlier volume also covered NW Quebec.

Chinese Directory & Telephone Book. Northeastern Ontario.

  • Holdings: 1972, 1974

Chinese Directory & Telephone Book. Northern Ontario

  • Holdings: 1971-1974

Chinese Directory & Telephone Book. Quebec

  • Holdings: 1970-1975

Chinese Directory & Telephone Book. South Western Ontario.

  • Holdings: 1964-1974

Chinese Directory for the Maritime Provinces

  • Holdings: 1961-1975

Chinese Directory, Ottawa & Vicinity

  • Holdings: 1965, 1971

Chinese Directory, South Eastern Ontario

  • Holdings: 1970-1971

Edmonton and Surrounding Communities Chinese Telephone Directory

  • Holdings: 1963-1993

Manitoba, Winnipeg and Vicinity Chinese Telephone Directories

  • Holdings: 1965-1992

Metropolitan Toronto Chinese Directory

  • Holdings: 1965-1975

NE, NW & SW Ontario Chinese Directory

  • Holdings: 1968

Saskatchewan Chinese Telephone Directory

  • Holdings: 1962-1992

Vancouver & B.C. Mainland Chinese Telephone Directory

  • Holdings: 1960-1992 (some missing)

Vancouver Island Chinese Telephone Directory

  • Holdings: 1963-1990