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British Columbia


General Area of the 1887 Vancouver Riot


On February 24, 1887, a crowd of about 300 white men attacked a Chinese workers' camp at the east end of Coal Harbour and tore down most of the dwellings there. An eyewitness repoted that it was very cold, with snow on the ground, and several of the Chinese were forced to jump into the frigid waters of False Creek in order to escape.


The rioters started a large fire and fueled it with the workers' clothing, bedding and other provisions. One newspaper report said that about 25 workers were "kicked and knocked about," although there is no record of any serious injuries.Around midnight a smaller mob went to the main Chinese community on Carrall Street and burned or otherwise destroyed about 90 Chinese homes and businesses.


The following day, a mob rounded up about 100 Chinese who had remained in the area and loaded them and their belongings onto wagons. Some men were tied together by their queues to prevent them from escaping. They were taken to New Westminster, about nine miles (14.5 kilometers) away, where they were put on a steamer bound for Victoria.


Three of the instigators of the riot were arrested by the local police, but the charges were dismissed later for lack of evidence.

Sources: Anderson, Barholden, Roy, Wang, Wynne 

About this site: The area where the Chinese lived in 1887 was described was a "depressed, swampy district" overlapping the edge of False Creek. Much of this area was filled in during the 20th century, and the reclaimed area is now far from the waters of Coal Harbour.

Today Vancouver's flourishing Chinatown has grown around the area where the riot took place. The photo here shows a small pond in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden and Park. A map in Williams' Illustrated Official British Columbia Directory of 1892 shows that this pond today is in approximately the same place as the edge of False Creek at the time of the riot

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