Arlene Chan

Friday, April 26th 2019 | 7:00pm

The arrival of Chinese and the development of Chinatown in Toronto owe their modest beginnings to the completion of the CPR in 1885 after which time a hostile British Columbia sent Chinese immigrants eastwards in search of employment and a more welcoming place.  In 1894, the Chinese population in Toronto numbered fifty.  Today, half a million make up the second largest visible minority in the Greater Toronto Area where the most spoken languages, after English and French, are Mandarin and Cantonese.  Archival photographs and Arlene’s family stories will trace the history from the early years to the current day.


Arlene Chan, a retired librarian, has written seven books about the history, culture, and traditions of the Chinese in Canada, several nominated for the Ontario Speaker’s Book Award, Heritage Toronto Book Award, Silver Birch Award, and Red Cedar Award.  She shares her stories of growing up in Toronto’s Chinatown through her writing, tours, and presentations.  Arlene serves as the president of the Jean Lumb Foundation, board member of Little Pear Garden Dance Company, advisor for Toronto Public Library’s Chinese Canadian Archive, and member of Ontario Infrastructure Heritage Interpretation Working Group. She is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award (2013) and Heritage Toronto Special Achievement Award (2017).