Dr. Sun Yat-sen led the 1911 Revolution in China that overthrew the last imperial dynasty and founded the Chinese Republic. He also had a strong presence in the history of Chinese Canadians. Born in 1866 in rural Xiangshan County, Guangdong Province, Sun moved to Hawaii at age thirteen, where he attended high school, and then to Hong Kong, where he received western medical training and began practice as a physician. He soon abandoned the practice for full-time revolutionary activity. Unable to promote revolution within China and realizing the potential for support among Chinese outside China, Sun spent most of the period 1895-1911 travelling in Overseas Chinese communities around the world seeking political and financial support.
His three visits to Canada occurred in 1897, 1910, and 1911. The first visit was limited to Victoria and Vancouver, where most Canadian Chinese then lived. The latter two visits included eastern Canada as well. By the time of the third visit, early 1911, political excitement was high among Vancouver's Chinese. Sun's daily lectures at the Sing Kew Chinese Theatre in Shanghai Alley were packed. He received major support from the Cheekungtong (Chinese Freemasons). In Vancouver he stayed in the Cheekungtong building, across Pender Street from the Canton and Shanghai Alley complex. The Vancouver, Victoria, other British Columbia, and eastern Canadian branches of this organization contributed, often by mortgaging their own buildings, a total of Cdn $35,000. This sum largely financed an attempted revolution at Huang Hua Kang near the city of Guangzhou. This abortive revolution, some six months before the successful one of October 1911, is commemorated in a monument at Huang Hua Kang on which the names of Canadian Chinese communities are prominently inscribed.
When the 1911 Revolution faltered after initial success, Dr. Sun Yat-sen again went into exile for a time but soon returned to China, setting up a Southern Government in Guangzhou in competition with the warlord-dominated Northern Government in Beijing. By 1923 he had made a controversial strategic alliance with the Soviet Union in pursuit of his revolutionary goal for China. The political division and controversy in China during these years was reflected in the politics in Chinatowns around the world, including Vancouver's. But after his death in 1925 it was Dr. Sun Yat-sen's ideals that continued to inspire Chinese everywhere, both supporters of his Chinese Nationalist Party [Guomindang: Kuomintang] and those who were not.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen
Office of Chinese Times
Chinese Times
Chinese workers
Summary of damage
Susan Yip

On April 9, an attempt is made to burn down Chinatown when a deliberately set fire is located in the Sing Kew Theatre [Xingqiao Juyuan] on Shanghai Alley.

On September 7, an anti-Asian riot sweeps Chinatown. A mob marches into Shanghai Alley to beat up Chinese, wreck stores and smash windows, causing $26,000 in damages. During hearings to determine compensations, it is estimated that there are now 6,000 Chinese in Vancouver, of whom 1,500 work in sawmills.

Vancouver's Cheekungtong [Zhigongtang], later known as Chinese Freemasons, starts publishing the Chinese-language newspaper CHINESE TIMES [DAI HON GONG BO: DA HAN GONG BAO] (lasted until 1993).

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen makes his second visit to Vancouver.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen pays his third and last visit to Vancouver in January. He lectures daily in Sing Kew Chinese Theatre. Support and attendance are claimed to be unprecedented. In October, the Chinese Revolution succeeds. The Qing Dynasty is overturned and a republic is established in its place.
According to the CENSUS OF CANADA Vancouver has a Chinese population of 3,559.

Chang Toy, proprietor of Sam Kee Company, builds the world's narrowest building at the southwest corner of Pender and Carrall after the City expropriates his lot to widen Pender Street.

Susanne Yip (daughter of Yip Sang) is one of the Canadian-born Chinese to enroll at the University of British Columbia. She later becomes Principal of a girls' middle school in Guangzhou and Professor of English at Sun Yat-Sen University.

First World War breaks out. China joins British alliance. Vancouver's Chinese buy $100,000 in war bonds, despite unemployment rate estimated at 70-80% in 1916. Some Chinese serve in the Canadian infantry.

Chinese Canadian Club is founded in Vancouver by a young generation of local-born Chinese, immigrant Chinese and students from China.

Political disintegration plagues China as the Chinese Nationalist Party [Guomindang: Kuomintang] under Dr. Sun Yat-Sen sets up government in Guangdong in opposition to Beijing. Warlords control much of China. A military brigade of Chinese from Canada embarks for China.

Thousands of coolies from Northern China are kept locked up in boxcars on the railroad tracks alongside Canton Alley. They are being taken across Canada and sent on to France to dig trenches during World War I. More than 200,000 men pass through Canada this way in 1916-17. Residents of Canton Alley talk to the frightened men and pass food into the boxcars.

Chinese Labour Association is formed. By 1918, there are 500-600 members.

Chinese men whipsawing timber

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