Established in 1877 by Chinese migrants who began arriving towards the end of the Second Opium War, Montreal Chinatown has continued to attract subsequent waves of migrants from Overseas Chinese in Vietnam fleeing persecution, Chinese concerned about the 1997 Hong Kong Handover to the latest waves of students and migrants from mainland China.
Not surprisingly, the physical landscape of Montreal Chinatown also changed in response to urban development and the increasing prosperity of the Chinese community.
Multi functional Montreal Chinatown
Today’s Montreal Chinatown plays multiple functions. It is the center of many Chinese social and cultural organizations, has the largest Chinese school and even a Montreal Chinese hospital.
The Chinese population of Montreal likes to visit their Chinatown to buy special food items not found elsewhere not to mention enjoy the various Chinese, Vietnamese or Asian restaurants.
Montreal Chinatown hosts the celebration of Chinese festivals as well as Canadian festivals.
Visitors might catch a lion dance during the Chinese New year, admire lanterns and dragon dances during the Mid Autumn Festival, receive green fortune cookies for St. Patrick's Day or watch Miss Chinese Montreal Pageant.
Archways of Montreal Chinatown
Montreal Chinatown has the distinction as the Chinatown with the most archways in Canada; total of four, one in each direction.
Most Chinatowns have an archway but with four archways, Montreal Chinatown is in the same league as Manila Chinatown, Kobe Chinatown and Yokohama Chinatown with their many archways.
Co-operation between stakeholders
This amazing Chinatown is the result of co-operation between different stakeholders carefully balancing the different needs of Montreal Chinatown. The Canadian government funds the construction of hospitals and cultural centers while the Montreal city officials designate it as a tourist zone.
The people respond by taking ownership of their Chinatown and supporting its activities and businesses. This vibrancy in turn attracts tourist who come from all over the world.
The diverse stakeholders has worked together to create a functioning and vibrant Chinatown not just for the locals, the Chinese or the tourists but a Chinatown for everyone.