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REGIONS   西北角地区
Vancouver Chinatown
This page presents information in terms of the places where Northwest American Chinese originated, lived and worked.  The places in question include southern Guangdong province in China and the area stretching from the far northern part of California to Alaska and from the Pacific coast to the western parts of Montana and Wyoming.    Chinese played a role, often an important one, in the history of all parts of the Pacific Northwest.  Their home districts in China often dictated where they settled in North America, how they organized themselves, and what they did for a living.
Seattle's early Chinatown, home of Chin Gee Hee. 华盛顿州
西雅图华埠: 陈宜僖故居
Classical Chinese Garden, 
Chinatown, Portland
Joss House, Weaverville
Memorial shrine, Evanston
IDAHO 爱达荷州
Altar furnishings from local temple, State Museum. Boise
Wah Mee Museum,
ALASKA 阿拉斯加州
"China Joe," Juneau, early 1900s
Click here to add text.
Kamloops 锦录
Nanaimo  坭磨
New Westminster    二埠
Victoria    或多利
Yale 火者

ALASKA  阿拉斯加州
Juneau     金坑

“Sebastopbe”   八家保
Dutch Flat[ ] 治付列
Eureka    夭力架
Holland Flat     倒崙付列
Los Angeles    那山忌利
Marysville        三埠
Monterey Co.   芒子里
Mountain View 尾啡
Nelson Point    扭慎泮
Nevada    那必地
North San Juan北边山灣
Oakland  屋崙
Oroville    荷花
Point Arena     泮地僯打
Sacramento     二埠
Salinas    市连打
San Francisco 正埠 (旧金山)
San Jose 山多写

CALIFORNIA, continued
Saport     立砵
Stockton 士作顿埠
Sweetland火? 龙
Truckee   卓忌
Virginia City     故知彌失地

OREGON  俄勒岗州
Astoria     埃士左利
Baker City白加失地
Boise City贝市失地
Canyon City     忌寅失地
Dixie Creek      滴社坑
Empire City      点派失地
Granite     加兰?
Kalama     加榄地
Portland  砵崙
Salem      西林
Watsonville      挖慎委利

Black Diamond       朱茂炭山
Colfax            哥兒發
Coupe Ville     曲华里
Dayton           即午
Dungeness    進陳也
Fall City         科失地
Fidalgo           花地高
Franklin Colliery     入边炭山
Free Port        非李砵
Green River   青水坑
Irondale          铁山
Laconner        力困打
Muckilteo       墨加斜何

Chinese place names in the Pacific Northwest, 1880-1890 西北角中文地名
from the unpublished account book of Chin Gee Hee, a Seattle merchant晚清陈宜禧的翻译

This and other place name lists will be included here because of their usefulness to researchers using Chinese-language sources on the history of the region.  The Chinese place names in those sources are often incomprehensible even to the most literate reader.  A good example is the effort by a well educated Chinese student working with Prisicilla Wegars and the Asian American Comparative Collection at the University of Idaho.  The student transcribed part of the trade mark on an early opium can as "Yudouli" (click here to see the trade mark).  This made no sense.  If the student had read it in Cantonese, "Wik To Lei," she/he might have guessed that it meant "Victoria," and connected the can with one of the well-known opium factories in Victoria, British Columbia.  But in many cases, even a good dictionary and a thorough knowledge of Cantonese and Taishanese do not help, especially when--as is often the case--the accepted Chinese version of a place name was changed in later years.

This is why we are putting things as boring as place name lists on line.  They are not much fun to look at.  But, for historians who work with Chinese-language primary sources, they are vitally important.
WASHINGTON, continued
New Slope      新炭孔
New Tacoma   新工?罢
Newcastle      舍路大炭山
Olympia         多连破
Port Blakely   砵力利
Port Discovery砵士甲北利
Port Gamble  砵今步
Port Ludlow    砵[ ]路
Port Madison 砵吗利慎
Port Townsend砵党顺
Puget Sound   票地夹
Pullayup         票打立
Renton Coal Mine   抱李炭山
San Juan lime kiln  山湾石灰窑
Seabeck        失逼
Seattle King Co.     舍路
Skagit River    士吉治
Snohomish City      士努钦地示
Snoqualmie   雪山壊花园
Sparta            士八地
Stuck Junction       士作转神
"Tal Bot"         斜兒别炭山
Utsalady        鸭示狸?地
Vancouver      芒果花
Waitsburg     厨是边
Walla Walla    抓李抓嚹
Whatcom       挖今

Chicago          士加古
Salt Lake City 梳力失地
Pacific Northwest

Cities in the Northwestern Region with Chinatowns.  Almost every city and town had one, although in many cases it has not survived.

清末民初西北角中文地名.  A List of  Chinese place names for the Pacific Northwest  in the late 19th century, from the unpublished account boooks of a Seattle merchant.  Also a list of place names in BC from a 1901 directory.  For use by historical researchers using Chinese-language sources.

Southern China

君从哪里来? 都是广东人!.  Home counties and sub-ethncity of Chinese immigrants, from a 2010 study by Henry Yu of the Unversity of British Columbia.  

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150 Mile House             150米路好市
Agassiz         的架士
Ashcroft                士卡笠
Barkerville              巴架威路
Cache Creek                 卡士隙
Caemainus                    智免呢士
Chilliwack              車梨役
Clinton                   乾蘭頓
Coquitlam              高隙倫
Cranbrook              奸布碌
Dog Creek              鐸固叻
Eburne                  衣巴倫
Extension Mines             的市丹臣
Fort Steele             市徂路
Greenwood             古連活
Hammond               坎文
Kamloops               錦線(录?)
Kaslo                     卡市老
Ladner                    連打
Lillooet                  李利埠
Lyton                     列午

Nanaimo                       乃無
Nelson                   尔利臣
New Westminister          二埠
North Bend             諾丙
Oyster Harbor                爱市打下砵
Princeton               布連市頓
Quesnel                        間那路埠
Quesnelle Forks     間那路福士埠
Revelstoke             利為市作
Rock Creek                   樂古力
Rossland              老市崙
Salmon Arm           沙文庵
Spuzzum               市巴森
Stanley                  士丹利
Steveston              市的為顺
Trail                      粗利路
Union Bay             夭寅下不
Union Mines           夭寅米
Vancouver             云哥華埠
Victoria                域多利

Chinese place names in British Columbia, 1901 加拿大卑斯省中文地名
from the International Chinese Directory 1901, published by the Chinese Directory Company, 606 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA.  1901年中文商业指南
The 1901 edition of the International Chinee Directory:was the first of two editions to be produced, almost single-handed, by an amazingly hard-working Chinese businessman in pre-Earthquake San Francisco.  Very few copies of either edition survive.  We borrowed the one we used from Philip Choy, who is not only a leading historian of Chinese America but a supportive and generous mentor to researchers who, like the editors, are new to subjects that he has long since mastered.
This list is taken from the account book of Chin Gee Hee [Chen Yixi] 陳宜禧 (1844-ca. 1924), one of the most talented and creative Chinese businessmen in Seattle's history.  The book is now stored with other Chin Gee Hee papers in the Special Collections division of the University of Washington Library.  The list has not been published previously.
Lum family home in Xinhui County, Siyup area, Guangdong, reproduced courtesy of Raymond Lum and the Chinese American Museum of Chicago 广东新会农村
Modern prefectures in Guangdong; 19th century emigrant origin areas in blue. From Wiki Commons
19th century counties of origin in Guangdong for emigrants to North America
On "Death", another page, of this website we presented data on sub-ethnic origins of Canadian Chinese buried at the Harling Point cemetery in Victoria BC, as assembled by Professor David Lai of the University of Victoria (Note 1).  Until very recently, that was the best compilation of early Chinese immigrants listed by home county available for any part of North America.  Lai's compilation, based on records of mass and individual graves, was as follows:

 Birth Counties of  Chinese Buried in Harling Point Cemetery, Victoria

 County  Mass GravesIndividual Graves

 Taishan 台山310                63
 Panyu   番禺148                33
 Kaiping 开平121                28
 Xinhui   新会112        24
 Enping 恩平  63   8
 Zengcheng  增城                             45 or 28
 Zhongshan   中山 38        5 or 24
 Other     49         7
Modern Prefectures in Guangdong
Historic Counties in Central Guangdong
Now, however, new and more comprehensive data has been assembled, by Professor Henry Yu 余全毅教授 at the University of British Columbia, his students, and the Asian Library of the same university, under the leadership of Eleanor Yuen 袁家瑜.  The data was first persented to the adademic community at a workshop held at UBC on May 18, 2010 (Note 2).  The data comes from the digitization of all Canadian head-tax  人头税 records (the so-called General Registration of Chinese Immigration--for the online but non-digitized version, see Note 3) from 1885 to 1949 and covers almost 100,000 individuals.  Although similar information about the village-level origins of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. exists in the National Archives and Records Administration's Chinese Exclusion Files, extracting that will require many years of work and a great deal of money.  For the foreseeable future, the results of Yu's project will be considered definitive with regard to sub-ethnic affiliations of early Chinese in North America..
Main Sources of Chinese Immigrants to Canada, 1885-1949

CountyNumber of Immigrants

Xinhui   13,858
Kaiping 13,350
Panyu    6,415
Zhongshan     5,899
Enping   3,754
Heshan  2,574
Guangdong (other counties?)           780
Nanhai      480
Shunde             420
Dongguan  203
Home Counties in Guangdong and Sub-Ethnicity of Immigrants
君从哪里来? 都是广东人!
Although obscure to many historians, the sub-ethnic identities of Chinese in North America--that is, their home districts and hence their dialects and social connections--are one of the main keys to understanding immigration patterns, economic choices, and community dynamics.  In the eyes the immigrants themselves, home districts were usually conceived in terms of one's county (Cantonese Yup; Mandarin Yi or Xian), historically the most stable geographical subdivision of China and one whose boundaries often are marked linguistically as well as administratively.  People from the same county tend to speak the same dialect or sub-dialact, and to speak differently from people in neighboring counties.  Even now, Chinese in and outside China often name their ancestors' home county when asked "Where are you from?" or "Where is your home?"

Until the 1980s, almost all overseas Chinese came from a small number of counties in Guangdong and Fujian provinces.  North American Chinese came from even fewer counties, all of them located on or near the Pearl River estuary in central southern Guangdong.  

As in Lai's more restricted study, this data shows that immigrants from the Taishanese-speaking "four-county" or Siyup or Siyi area 四邑 (Taishan, Xinhui, Kaiping, and Enping, with Heshan added later) were numerically dominant.  Immigrants from the "three-county or Samyup or Sanyi area 三邑 (Panyu, Nanhai, and Shunde) were in second place, followed closely by Zhongshan and then by Zengcheng and Dongguan, both far behind.  The Samyup counties speak a somewhat rustic version of "standard" Cantonese, the language of Guangzhou and Hong Kong.  Zengcheng, and Dongguan speak dialects that are slightly further from standard Cantonese, and while the Zhongshan dialect is distinctive and, to the ears of native speakers, influenced by various neighboring speech groups, it is still mutually comprehensible with the standard form of the language,  Spoken Taishanese, on the other hand, is not understood by Cantonese speakers.  Hence, it constitutes what many linguists would call a separate language that is closely linked to but outside the Cantonese dialect cluster.

A third and quite separate language is that of the Hakka 客家人, a group which has moved into many parts of Guangdong in recent centuries,  Because they were minorities in their home counties and recorded in Canadian records by county name rather than speech group or subethnicity, it is not possible to estimate how many Hakka were present among immigrants from Taishanese- and Cantonese-speaking counties (Note 4).  There clearly were a good many--Victoria and Honolulu both have old, important Hakka temples, and Hakka were one of the few Chinese immigrant groups with prior experience in placer gold mining of the sort practiced by Chinese in California, British Columbia, etc..


Note 1  David Chuenyan Lai, "The Chinese Cemetery in Victoria," B.C. Studies, No. 75, Autumn 1987, Tables 2 & 3
Note 2  Workshop on he Taishan and Zhongshan Immigrants in North America, UBC Asian Centre, hosted by the UBC Asian Library, UBS INSTRCC, and the UBC Dept of Hstory.
Note 2  http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/chinese-immigrants/index-e.html
Note 3: Arnold Genthe & John Kuo Wei Tchen  Genthe's Photographs of Old San Francisco's Chinatown.  Dover Pubs., 1984, p 81.
Note 4: McKeown estimates 15%.  See Adam McKeown, Chinese Migrant Networks and Cultural Change.  Chicago, 2001, p 63

Why are these ethnic/linguistic identities important?   Because, for one thing, they lay at the center of many inter-Chinese conflicts in North American Chinatowns during the 19th and early 20th centuries (Note 5).  In San Francisco, for instance, knowledgeable non-Chinese often saw outbreaks of tong violence as struggles for economic dominance between Sam Yup and Si Yup-affiliated tongs, with Hakka (Yen Wo) tongs watching interestedly from the sidelines.   For another, the existence of subethnic divisions gave special significance to the few pan- speech group organizations, such as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association 中华会
馆, Chinese Freemasons 致公堂, 達權 and some temples.
金山西北角 - 华裔研究中心
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Northwestern Chinatowns

Chinese neighborhoods, sometimes but not always ghettos in which Chinese were forced to live, existed in most cities in the region.  Alaska was the exception: there, the small number of year-round Chinese residents lived either as caretakers in canneries or as dispersed service providers in such towns as Juneau and Sitka.  Many canneries, which in Alaska were almost always isolated from other settlements, had numerous Chinese workers during the salmon season but were nearly abandoned for most of the year.  The workers lived in the contiguous U.S., the majority in California or Oregon.

The decade1880-1890 marked the high point of Chinese population in much of the region.  In those years the following settlements had significant numbers of year-round Chinese residents:

British Columbia: Barkerville, Cumberland, Kamloops, Kelowna, Lilloet, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Quesnel, Quesnel Forks, Rossland, Vancouver, Vernon, Victoria, and Yale.  Delta and Steveston each had substantial seasonal populations of cannery workers.

Idaho: Boise, Idaho City, Lewiston, Oro Fino, Placerville, and Silver City.

Montana: Butte and Helena.

Oregon: Astoria, Baker City, Jackson, John Day/Canyon City, Pendleton, Portland, and The Dalles.  Several small settlements on the Columbia River hosted seasonal cannery workers.

Washington: Seattle, Olympia, Port Townsend, Spokane, Tacoma, and Walla Walla.  Anacortes, Bellingham, Blaine, Cathlamet, and San Juan Island had canneries with seasonal workers.

The Cities page of this website includes summary histories of Chinese in AstoriaPort TownsendPortlandSeattleTacomaVictoria, and Vancouver.
This page was last updated: August 30, 2018