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The Opium Trade and Victoria's Chinatown

Sunday, May 28, 2017

5:45 PM

Island Wok Restaurant

801 Vernon Ave, Victoria, V8X2W8, Victoria, BC

Just north of Uptown at corner of Ravine Way & Highway 17

These days we talk about the legalization of marijuana. Can you imagine that at one time the legalization of opium in Canada was a non-issue? For 50 years (1858-1908), the Canadian, provincial and local governments were happy to receive the sizable revenues brought by the refinement and distribution of the drug. Opium was as easy to buy as your salted turnips, rice or sugar!

Would you ever guess that our city of Victoria was the biggest refining centre of raw opium outside Asia? That B.C.'s 3rd largest export to the USA during the 1870s was opium (after coal and furs)? The industry certainly provided much employment, from factory workers to retailers to shippers, with upwards of 15 factories operating between Herald and Johnson Streets. The lucrative industry not only helped run the country, but also helped finance much of the development of the city of Victoria.

If you'd like to learn more about this fascinating chapter of Victoria's history, please join us on Sunday, May 28th, for dinner. Dr. Chris Willmore, economics professor from the University of Victoria, will be our guest speaker.

Dr. Willmore, noting a lack of course material related to Chinese economic history in Canada, conducted local research and unearthed fascinating information to share with his students, many of whom came from China. Now he'd like to share with us!


Visitors, members and new members are always welcome at our dinners.

Cost for the dinner (includes buffet, tax, gratuity, our own separate room):

Members: $22; Non-Members: $25; Full-time Students: $15

Cash or cheque only, please.

RSVP: Please email Carol to by Fri., May 26 at latest (if possible).

Membership in the VCCFA:

For those interested in membership in the VCCFA (Victoria Canada-China Friendship Association), the fee for an individual is $15/year, or for a family $20/year. Membership can be purchased at the dinner.

Typically we meet on the last Sunday evening of the month from January-June, then from September-November, at a local restaurant. Our members range from about 12 years of age to 90.

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