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History & Pioneers

Migration and Settlement - Ontario

According to the 1881 census, only 22 people of Chinese origin resided in Ontario.

Although overall totals remained small, the numbers of Chinese residing in Ontario increased significantly in each successive decennial census. In 1891, 97 people born in China were living in the province (although this does not necessarily mean that they were of Chinese nationality). By 1901, there were 629 people of Chinese nationality in Ontario. 2766 people of Chinese origin were recorded in 1911.

According to the 1921 census, 14.2% of the Chinese in Canada were in Ontario. Beginning with the 1931 census, numbers rose more slowly, reflecting the impact of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923.

In 1941, there were 6143 Chinese people in Ontario. The largest Chinese communities were in Toronto (2326), Ottawa (272), Windsor (259), and Hamilton (236). No other communities in Ontario had more than 100 Chinese residents.

After repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act, the pace of growth changed, at first gradually, and then accelerating, reaching 41.6% of the total Chinese-Canadian population by 1981.

According to the 2001 Canadian census, 518,550 people in Ontario were of Chinese ethnic origin, but this figure reflects large waves of immigration since the end of restrictions on immigration (see History and Pioneers).

The history of the Chinese communities in Toronto and Ottawa is explored in the following books:

Chinatown: An Illustrated History of the Chinese Communities of Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax (2005)
Yee, Paul
971.004 Y42c

The Chinese in Toronto from 1878: From Outside to Inside the Circle (2011)
Chan, Arlene
971.3004 C45c

For more information on the Chinese community and genealogical research in Ontario see:

Photo banner: Detail from VPL Historical Photograph 1746