Asian StudiesTech-Geeky

Chinese in Canada

Some people in Vancouver would never, ever, ever visit Halifax and it makes me pause for a moment. I suppose it is equally true that I will never, ever, ever make it to Pangnirtung or even a less exotic location… like Lloydminster, however open to those cities I might be. Hmmm.

Sometimes I get tired of people’s feigned interest in Halifax when I say that’s where I’m from, followed by them saying, “I’d like to visit sometime.” (Sure you do.) And I get slightly offended by the head-in-the-sand question that I usually get asked, “How many Chinese people are there in Halifax? Ten?”

“Well, actually, there are about 2,000,” I usually respond using data that is surely from a 1980s national census and they pause. 2,000 Chinese people is easily more than I’ve known in several cities combined.

Then I had the occasion to poke around the Stat Can website, particularly the Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities area, and I took a side trip to look up 2006 census data regarding my favourite and loathed question.

There are 3,105 Chinese people in Halifax alone. I think in my life, I only knew about 500… and that’s including Computer Science grad school that felt like it was 75% Chinese.

You can refer to my Google spreadsheet, “Chinese in Canada” but here are my narcissistic and statistically-unsound comments:

  • Vancouver is 18% Chinese while Toronto is 9.5% Chinese. All along, I have been quoting 25% and 10% for the two cities. Toronto’s composition is much more uniform amongst visible minorities while I cannot say the same is true in Vancouver. The difference is palpable and I love/like each city for its demographics.
  • Halifax doesn’t even have 1% Chinese. Pathetic. No wonder I had to leave.
  • The female-male ratio amongst Halifax Chinese (1.22) seems significantly different and higher than that in Vancouver (1.08) and Toronto (1.08). It makes me wonder why that happened.
  • With just 1,395 Chinese males in Halifax, how many do you suppose were in my age category? (I think I saw that data but did not copy it.) And then how many (or none) was I bound to get along with and marry? It’s no wonder I had to leave.

I’ll stop before having to explain myself too much and just call this justification, much later than the fact, for leaving Halifax.

2 thoughts on “Chinese in Canada

  • I might be the oddball here (nothing “strange” for those who known me) but I have been to Halifax twice and (on that second trip) Cape Breton/Sydney as well. Truth? Similar to me visiting Edmonton in the midst of winter, both Halifax and Edmonton are extremely underrated. People prefer cosmopolitan cities like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. Me? I LOVED Halifax. If it wasn’t because of job situation back then (I went on 2005 and 2006), I would have certainly wanted to move over there. It is quaint, has spectacular scenery and people are nice and down to earth.

    In contrast, I find Vancouver too polar, too segmented. You have your truckload of Asian population (to quote my friend while in Richmond, “are we in HK 2.0”?), while you have all East Indian in Surrey and other similar breakdowns. But, if you want to be side by side with peers of your same ethnicity, well, I won’t blame you. The question is whether you want to be one of the “bunch”. At least in places like Halifax, you could be unique. And, based on that last statement, it seems you have set your mind to marry Chinese so, if my assumption is correct, I guess you were destined to leave Halifax.

    In the end, I am a firm believer of you make out of what you have. If you prefer/like Vancouver/Richmond, I guess moving here was the correct decision. And I guess you are enjoying it here! ;)

  • Catch Star Girl

    I think I was groomed to snub Halifax for being so small, I was raised to be Chinese not just Chinese-Canadian, to expect to be somewhere else where I needed to interact with Chinese people and was drilled with Chinese lessons.
    The funny thing is that while the percentage of Chinese in Vancouver is one thing, it surely feels like much higher and not just in the the areas where you expect it like Richmond.
    It is very refreshing to visit Toronto, in my opinion, where you can set your eyes on a lot of diversity, which I notice from the moment I arrive at the airport. But the Chinese food here is better and if I’m not bound to be able to reproduce true home cooking… the restaurants are a good fallback!

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