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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sue War Laundry

Here's some more ghost signs from Chinatown. The one above is on Herald Street and the clearest words I can make out are the "Sue War Laundry" which appears twice. Chinese laundries were so common in the old west that they have become a cliche. But though many Chinese may have come here as lowly laborers, they quickly moved into unoccupied niches in the business world (such as laundries) and within a few generations they had migrated into the professions as was the case in other parts of the world. While I was in Maui a few weeks ago I was interested to discover some parallels between Chinese who went there to work on the sugar plantations and Chinese who came here to work on the railroad or in the gold fields. BC was known to China as "The Golden Mountain" while Hawaii was called, "The Sandalwood Mountain."
Fellow victoria blogger Mike Laplante has also collected some interesting local ghost signs you can see on his blog by clicking HERE.


JoJo said...

I should browse through the Facebook Victoria History page and see if anyone's posted a picture of this when it was new.

William Kendall said...

I find myself wondering how long it'll still be legible.

Socratic Method Man said...

I realise this is old, but it's worth correcting people on these points when we find them: Chinese immigrants did not open laundries, farms, and restaurants cos they were unoccupied niches, but rather because of laws explicitly limiting them to owning only certain types of businesses, and unwritten but very lively racist barriers limiting them to certain kinds of employment.

Knowing this lends a new perspective to the monstrous unfairness of the stereotypes, as well as to the province-wide racialist resentment of places like Richmond and Delta being home to many Chinese communities (without doing the decent thing and calling themselves "CHINATOWN," gosh) and owning so much farmland.

The moral of this story is: When you limit three generations of refugees and immigrants to laundries, farms, salons, and restaurants, don't whine when they get REALLY GOOD at it, and develop multi-generational monopolies.