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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Victoria in Capital Regional District, British Columbia — The Canadian Pacific
 

Dragon Alley

 
 
Dragon Alley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2011
1. Dragon Alley Marker
Inscription. During this district’s boom of 1881 – 1884, sixteen thousand Chinese established themselves within this area of Victoria. Thus emerged six blocks of businesses, theatres, a hospital, schools, churches, temples, opium factories, gambling dens and brothels; creating for Victoria’s Chinese community, Canada’s first and largest Chinatown.

This lot between Fisgard and Herald, originally, was the site of wooden huts that were leased to the Chinese. Building A, the Hart’s Block on Herald Street, was built by Michael Hart who replaced the huts with a two storey brick building in 1891. This became a livery for the rental of horses on the main level and the second floor was used as a brothel. At the same time, Building B on Fisgard Street, also owned by Hart, was constructed and occupied by Chinese tenants for a store on the ground floor and residential units above.

The property was bought by Quan Yuen Yen and Joe Gar Chow om 1911, who constructed a two storey tenement building (Building C on the plan) designed by local architect, Samuel Buttrey Birds. This building was used as housing for single Chinese residents. The unique ground level layout provided a network of intimate alleyways and lightwells, much like an interior village.

This maze like planning is similar to the layout of Chinese cities in that behind the façade of

Detail from the Dragon Alley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2011
2. Detail from the Dragon Alley Marker
commercial store fronts exists a labyrinth of narrow alleys interior courts and internal passageways, creating a unique neghbourhood secluded from public view.

The Hart’s Block, Building A and Building C were derelict and unoccupied before the construction of the ‘Dragon Alley’ project in 1999. The restoration and revitalization of these three historic buildings was made possible, in part, by grants and tax incentives given by the City of Victoria and Victoria Civic Heritage Trust. ‘Dragon Alley’ was officially opened in a ceremony on December 30, 2000.

[Plaque below]
Developer: Humour Holdings Ltd. Architect: Moore Paterson Architects Inc. Contractor: Roads’ End Contracting Ltd.
 
Erected 2000 by Humour Holdings Ltd.
 
Location. 48° 25.767′ N, 123° 22.103′ W. Marker is in Victoria, British Columbia, in Capital Regional District. Marker can be reached from Fisgard Street. Click for map. This marker is located in Dragon Alley next to Unit #12. Marker is at or near this postal address: 532 1/2 Fisgard Street, Victoria, British Columbia V8W, Canada.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Victoria’s Chinatown (within shouting distance of this marker); Lee Mong Kow (within shouting distance of this marker); Cast Iron Panels

Dragon Alley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2011
3. Dragon Alley Marker
(about 150 meters away, measured in a direct line); Chinese General Store (about 150 meters away); McPherson Playhouse (about 150 meters away); Fifth Regiment of Garrison Artillery (about 150 meters away); Market Square’s Main Gate Fountain (about 180 meters away); Victoria, B.C. (about 210 meters away). Click for a list of all markers in Victoria.
 
Categories. Asian Americans
 
Dragon Alley image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2011
4. Dragon Alley
The Entrance to Dragon Alley image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2011
5. The Entrance to Dragon Alley
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 661 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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