Chinatown Signs

Toronto’s main Chinatown is located west of the heart of the city and stretches along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue, with a second area, East Chinatown, thriving along Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street. Toronto has one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and is one of six Chinatowns in Greater Toronto, including Mississauga and Markham.

If you’re curious to learn more about this ethnic neighborhood or would like to test your knowledge of Toronto’s culture, here are the top 7 interesting facts about Chinatown:

1. Sam Ching, the earliest settler in Chinatown, was one of the first Chinese men registered in the city’s directory. In 1878, he opened a hand laundry business at 9 Adelaide Street East.

2. Toronto’s original Chinatown, or First Chinatown, was established in the 1890’s along Elizabeth Street. Today, much of the area has been taken over by Toronto Civic Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.


Mr. Lee Hong’s laundry in 1912. Photo courtesy of Toronto Archives.

3. By 1902, over 100 Chinese-owned laundry businesses were in operation, which, at the time, worried other existing Toronto laundries. The growing competition actually resulted in public boycotts and caused The Laundry Association of Toronto to lobby for a high fee to be imposed on all new laundries!

4. The present day Chinatown extending along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue was once a Jewish District. Today, the area is referred to as Old Chinatown.

5. The population of Chinatown primarily composes of East Asians, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese people. Most of the demographic is Cantonese-speaking.

6. In 1967, Jean Lumb stepped forth as a community leader to establish the Save Chinatown Committee when a city plan proposed to further take over and eventually demolish First Chinatown. Less than a decade later, she received the Order of Canada for her efforts.

toronto 017

A life-sized sculpture of a decorated moose standing on the rooftop of the Lucky Moose Food Mart.

7. There is a life-sized sculpture of a colourful moose hanging on the rooftop of the Lucky Moose Food Mart. It was decorated by local artists and is one of the 326 moose scattered around Toronto as part of the Moose in the City project by the City of Toronto.

Oh, and as a bonus, have another fact: Somewhere in Toronto Chinatown lies a facility desperate for help to solve the mystery that threatens the neighborhood, maybe the entire world: Will you and your curious band of investigators unravel the conspiracy along the district’s alleyways, busy streets and inside shops in project Lost & Found in Chinatown?