Vancouver Island and the Transpacific Chinese Diaspora, 1788-1918


  • Zhongping Chen University of Victoria



This article provides a bird’s-eye view of Vancouver Island’s historical role as a transpacific portal and anchor for the Chinese diaspora as the latter evolved on the local and global levels between 1788 and 1918. It examines how the island served as a starting point for the Guangdong-originated migration to America in 1788-1789, channeled large waves of Cantonese labour migrants into Canada in the late nineteenth century, and facilitated the transfer of tens of thousands of Chinese labourers to Western Europe in the First World War. Revealing how the Island helped connect dispersed Chinese communities through interlocking merchant companies, community organizations, and political associations in a transpacific context, this study transcends conventional local histories by bringing transnational and diasporic perspectives to the history of Vancouver Island.

Author Biography

Zhongping Chen, University of Victoria

Department of History

Full professor