Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chinese Public School
Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
Chinese Public School
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chinese Public School is a unique freestanding two and one-half storey building located on one and one-half commercial city lots in Victoria's Chinatown District. It is distinguishable by its spacious set-back situation within the streetscape, a unique pagoda-style roofline and tower, and an eclectic blend of architectural detailing.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chinese Public School is an important symbol of perseverance in the face of Western Society's discrimination against the Chinese community in the early twentieth century. The school was constructed in 1909 by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) in response to racial and cultural segregation imposed by the school board and government, which banned Chinese-born students from City schools until they spoke English. Although no longer the sole source of education for Chinese children in Victoria, as it was originally, the school continues to provide education to members of the community in a supplemental nature. It is significant that the Chinese Public School has continued to perpetuate the knowledge and appreciation of Chinese language and traditional cultural values to generations of the local Chinese-Canadian community for almost one hundred years.
This historic place is also valued as a monument to the strength and philanthropy of the CCBA, which was once the most powerful Chinese organization in Canada. This building, which continues to maintain an Association office, is a testament to that organization's long-standing commitment to provide social and cultural leadership for its community. It is important to Victoria's heritage because it is an embodiment of the Association's original functions, established in 1884: to lobby against discriminatory laws and taxes, to arbitrate and maintain peace and order in Chinatown, to provide fundraising and relief, and to administer a hospital, cemetery, and school for the Victoria Chinese Community.
Architecturally, it is valued as one of Victoria's most important buildings. An impressive and unique character-setter within this neighbourhood, this is one of the most outstanding buildings within one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America. Its freestanding and spacious setback within the streetscape, and its eclectic architecture - designed by Scottish architect David C. Frame - make it a unique and valuable landmark in the City of Victoria.
Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chinese Public School is valued for its social role within the community, and for its landmark status in Victoria's historic Chinatown District.
The character-defining elements of the Chinese Public School include:
- Its freestanding nature which contributes to its landmark status, seen in characteristics such as front and side setbacks, and the small courtyard at front.
- Elements which define the lot occupied by the school, including the fence and gateposts.
- Design details which contribute to its Chinese character, and support the heritage character of the streetscape and the Chinatown District, including its pagoda-like roofline, prominent tower, and Chinese characters.
- Eclectic elements of its architectural design which contribute to its uniqueness within the city, such as the trefoil fretwork in the second floor balcony, orientalized bracketed eaves, and the first and second floor window muntin pattern.
- Its uses as both a school and a Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association office, and as a school for teaching subjects including Chinese history, culture, and language.
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
- Special or Training School
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.
Cross-Reference to Collection