Victoria's Chinatown has many echoes of the past. It contains within its small boundaries hidden inner areas behind the store fronts that face the streets. When this part of Victoria was being built in the nineteenth century the Chinese minority were still discriminated against. Like such minorities in other parts of the world, when they were mixing with the majority they had to behave in certain ways to avoid trouble. In the inner parts of Chinatown, however, they could, "...follow their customs, speak their dialects, and find pleasure, comfort, and companionship." These hidden inner areas, sometimes called Victoria's "Forbidden City," can now be freely accessed by anyone willing to venture down the two narrow alleys that lead within. The photo above is one of these alleys, called Fan Tan Alley. Fan Tan was a gambling game popular amongst Chinese immigrants and there were places where it could be played along this alley.
The quote above comes from "The Forbidden City within Victoria," by David Chuenyan Lai. There is an interesting brief history of Victoria's Chinatown on the BC Archives website.