Chinatown set to celebrate centennial

Street party to start Saturday afternoon


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ONE hundred years ago, a handful of Chinese workers and merchants struggled to get a foothold in their new Prairie hometown.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/09/2009 (4954 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ONE hundred years ago, a handful of Chinese workers and merchants struggled to get a foothold in their new Prairie hometown.

On Saturday, thousands in Winnipeg’s booming Chinese community are celebrating Chinatown’s centennial.

"Things have changed a lot," said Dr. Joseph Du, president of the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre.

Saturday’s street party runs from 2:45 to 9 p.m. on King Street, which will be closed between James and Alexander avenues.

The entertainment includes dozens of performers, including broadswordsman Kevin Woo, flute player Xiaonan Wang, the Great Wall Dance Academy, fire dancers, martial artists, storytellers and other cultural groups and entertainers.

The party has been a long time coming.

A century ago, Chinese Winnipeggers were too busy and isolated to play host to such an event.

"In those days, Chinese were a minority and there was a lot of discrimination," Du said. At a time when there were no social services, members of the community formed an association as a support network. "They would help each other out."

When Du came to Winnipeg in 1961, Chinatown was still growing.

"There were very few Chinese restaurants and no Chinese grocery stores," he said. "We’d have to get together and send an order to Vancouver for groceries and dry goods."

Today, census figures show 12,660 Chinese Winnipeggers, but the community estimates there are closer to 20,000.

Now there are dozens of Asian grocers, and big chains like Safeway and Superstore have Asian food sections.

Even the Queen’s representative in Manitoba is originally from China.

On Saturday afternoon, Lieutenant-Governor Phillip Lee will welcome people to the centennial event.

Lee is Manitoba’s first lieutenant-governor of Asian descent.

"That’s an exciting change," Du said.


Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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