11 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Montreal's Chinatown
The more you know.
You have probably grabbed a bite in, or at the very least strolled thorough, Montreal's Chinatown once or twice in your life, and while you already knew it's where to find some of the best dim sum and noodles the city has to offer, you might be a little oblivious to some of its history.
Extending from Saint-Urbain Street to Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal Chinatown is located on de la Gauchetière between René Lévesque Boulevard to the north and Viger Avenue to the south, roughly occupying the area of one city block.
While it is definitely not the biggest Chinatown in the world, it's our Chinatown and it's time you had a little background information.
Emerging in the late 1800's, Montreal's Chinatown is one of the oldest Asian districts in North America.
(1910 - Rue de la Gauchetière looking West from Saint-Urban)
From 1890 to 1920, Chinatown was also home to thousands of Jewish and Irish immigrants seeking employment opportunities.
(1940 - Montreal Chinatown)
Prior to 1970, Chinatown extended all the way West to Jeanne-Mance Street, but expropriation of a city block of Chinatown for the construction of the Complexe Guy-Favreau and the Palais des congrès de Montréal, plus re-zoning of areas to the East of Saint Laurent later on halted its expansion.
The tradtitional Chinese gates located at each of the four corners are called paifangs and Montreal has the most of any Chinatown in Canada.
North Gate: Saint-Laurent and Rene Levesque
South Gate: Saint-Laurent and Viger
East Gate: Saint-Dominique and de la Gauchetiere
West Gate: Jeanne-Mance and de la Gauchetiere
Montreal hosts an annual Miss Chinese Montreal Pageant, with the winner going on to compete at the International Pageant held in Hong Kong.
Back in 2008, Punisher: War Zone was filmed in Montreal's Chinatown, with many areas being redressed with English signage to look like Manhattan's Chinatown.
Much of the art and sculptures you see today were erected in 1982 and done by architects within the community. The works on Saint-Urban street are based on Chinese Mythology including the plaque to the Monkey King based on a Buddhist legend of a monkey who became the king of all the animals.
Built in 1826 by the same architect who did the Notre Dame Basilica, the Wing Building on the corner of de la Gauchetière and Coté, is presumed to be the oldest building in Chinatown. It once housed a military school, a paper box factory, and a warehouse before its current function as Wing's Noodle and Fortune Cookie Factory.
The Montreal Chinese Hospital in Chinatown is the only Chinese Hospital in Canada.
Unlike many other Canadian Chinatowns, and even higher up on Saint-Laurent Street for that matter, Montreal Chinatown is open past business hours and into the evening as it is a designated tourist zone.
It's the 3rd biggest Chinatown in Canada after Toronto and Vancouver.