Chinatown’s Old School House

January 5th, 2018

Few signs of Nanaimo’s once bustling Chinatown remains, destroyed by progress and fire. Nanaimo’s first Chinatown was located in the dock area in Downtown Nanaimo in proximity to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) terminal that existed in the 1860s (Victoria Crescent). When this area became more valued, Chinatown was moved to the end of what is now as Machleary Street, creating Nanaimo’s second Chinatown. Nanaimo’s second Chinatown was abandoned when a fuel company acquired the land and raised the rent. The third Chinatown was established Pine Street in 1908.

Early in the evening on September 30, 1960, disaster struck, a fire broke out in No. 6 house. The flames where spotted by Louis Fong. Several residents tried to combat the flames as the Nanaimo and Harewood (Volunteer) Fire Departments were both dispatched.

Local news papers reported frantic residents running door to door raising the alarm, about the fast spreading fire. By the time the flames where distinguished over 200 people where homeless, almost all of Chinatown was consumed by the flames.

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