Our History

Our Origin Story


Origin of Overseas Chinese Community Associations

In North America, there are Chinese Community Associations in almost any relatively large city. The first Chinese Community Association was established in 1885 (Guangxu Reign, 11th year), while the Chinese Community Association in Vancouver opened in 1895 (Guangxu Reign, 21st year). Every Chinese individual living in these two areas were members of the Chinese Community Association.

The daily affairs of the Chinese Community Associations included representing the interests of all members in legal disputes and the transportation of the remains of deceased members back to China. The establishment of the Chinese Community Associations were focused on minimizing anti-Chinese sentiments from the local white population and, improving the lives of each member within their community. The Chinese Community Associations gradually became the highest authority in Chinese society in North America.

However, there are also many problems with the Chinese Community Association. When Liang Qichao visited the United States and Canada in February 1904, he pointed out in the book Travels to the New Continent that:

“I realized that the rules and regulations of the Chinese Community Associations were mainly imitating the Western parties. (The rules and regulations were) very civilized, very meticulous. Though, when observing their actions, I found the contrary. Associations like the Chinese Community Association seemed as if they were the city government. Although, every time they held a meeting, ranging from the chairpersons to directors, less than one-tenth of them would attend. Everything has been set aside, and no one has expressed concern. When encountering minor disagreements, other associations would refuse to give funds to the Chinese Community Association, and there was nothing that the Chinese Community Association could do. There were more absurd people when it came to discussions. I have seen dozens of meetings held by members of Chinese Community Associations, and there were only two different outcomes. (1) There would be one or two so-called capable upper-class people who no one dared to challenge but were simply submissive. The so-called discussion was just an announcement. Situations like this are just autocratic. (2) The so-called upper-class people were not capable. They never make decisions when needed. Rascals would stand nearby and rise to shout when there was a discussion. Nothing gets resolved in the end. Situations like this are ochlocratic. It was also not uncommon to see some people using violence during the meeting.”

The root of the problem is that, although the Chinese Association claims to represent all Chinese, a few people often controlled it; there was often a situation where when one group was in power, the other was uncooperative.

Despite problems of one kind or another, the Chinese Association is still the most authoritative Chinese organization for overseas Chinese. The Chinese Community Association acts as the spokesperson for the Chinese community and the intermediary between the Chinese community and the Chinese embassy.

United Chinese Association and Chinese Benevolent Association

The Chinese people in Ottawa have always been united and friendly. They share a long-term vision and seek mutual development instead of confining themselves to individual interests. In 1914, Tan Jun and Huang Xianying jointly established the United Chinese Association to promote the common development within the Ottawa Chinese community. After its establishment, they asked Chinese consuls to go to the federal government to negotiate the Chinese immigration policy. In 1920, they responded to the Toronto anti-restriction Association and established a local branch to protest the poll tax. 

Through voluntary donations, volunteer work, supporting each other, etc., 300 Chinese pioneers in Ottawa have formed a strong Chinese community. One of their critical measures to increase the cohesion of the Chinese is to organize the Chinese to go to the Beachwood Chinese Cemetery for the annual tomb-sweeping. They also try their best to help the Chinese in poverty. According to William Joe and Marion Hum, in 1925, the two of them, including some past immigrants, bought forty tombs at The Beechwood Cemetery to bury those who had no relatives or could not afford the tombs. In the 1930s, the Zhou Xiang family, Zhou Zaiyan family and the Tan family united to form the Ottawa’s Chinese Benevolent Association (or Chinese Benevolent Society, in the English translation of Jean-Guy Daigle’s essays). It is a mutual aid organization in the Chinese community, which takes care of the elderly, the weak, the sick, the disabled and the orphaned.

During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the Ottawa members contributed money and efforts to support the war efforts back in their home country. They bought Chinese government bonds, raised money to purchase planes, and even went back to China to fight. Transportation overseas was banned during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. As such, many past immigrants could not achieve the idea of “falling leaves return to their roots”, so they had to consider finding their resting place in a foreign country. For the second time, the Chinese Benevolent Association of Ottawa bought fifty more burial places at Beachwood Cemetery and built a monument.

These tombstones that are uniformly laying on the ground are now surrounded by cypress fences and are named “Fuyin Garden”. In addition to Fuyin Garden, “Huaiyuan Pavilion” was also built. The Chinese Benevolent Association played a vital role in that these Chinese pioneers in Ottawa did not fall into oblivion.

The Foundation of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa

“Renaihui”, “Renaitang”, and the “Anti-Japanese Association” all refer to the same group (Chinese Benevolent Association). After the victory of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the Chinese Benevolent Association still had 3000 Canadian dollars left from donations. In 1958, some members of the Chinese community suggested establishing “zhonghuahuiguan,” the Chinese Community Association. The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa differs from other “zhonghuahuiguan.” For example, in Vancouver, it is called the “Chinese Benevolent Society.” Chinese Community Association of Ottawa has no direct relationship with other Chinese Community Associations in other parts of the world. It is entirely independent.

Historically, the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa took part in the annual meeting of the Canadian Chinese Community Association in Vancouver in August 1977; but only as a guest, not a member. After the participant representatives returned to Ottawa, they expressed their disapproval of the resolution “recognizing the Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China” passed by the Vancouver Chinese Community Association. In addition, the Vancouver Chinese Association violated the purpose of the registration and failed to elect according to the law since it was under the control of supporters of Chiang Kai-shek. As a result, eight directors were brought to court. On March 8, 1978, Judge Smith in the British Columbia Court ruled that the Vancouver Chinese Community Association had to be reelected by all overseas Chinese in Vancouver on June 16. The Vancouver Chinese Association failed to appeal. On October 29, 1978, reelection started under the supervision of a judge. All the supporters of Chiang Kai-shek lost the election. The Chinese Community Association received the support of most Chinese in Ottawa.

On this basis, the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa was founded in 1950, which Gong Mu describes in his "A Hundred Years of Chinese History in Ottawa" (8), “The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa was formally established in 1958 after several years of hard work. The council comprised 27 members from various overseas Chinese organizations, and the first chair is Mr. Jack Sim. ”

In 1958, the first council meeting of the Chinese Community Association was held at the Cathay Restaurant, opened by William Joe. Jack Sim was elected as the first chair. The backbone of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa at the time were either second or third-generation immigrants. The original meeting place was once on Albert Street, and the members were almost all restaurant workers, with very few high-prestige workers. At that time, Canadian society still had deep-rooted discrimination against Chinese people. As a result, most individuals preferred to sleep during the day and only came out at night, so they were rarely seen on the street during the day.

After the establishment of the Chinese Community Association, it soon became a gathering place for the Chinese people. In 1969, the Chinese donated money to buy 437 Gilmore Street, and the Chinese Community Association then moved to the new address. In 1982, the Chinese Community Association moved to 80 Florence St. The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa was initially established with donations from local overseas Chinese. The actual authorities of this organization are several second-generation Chinese immigrants who had no interest in politics and had never interfered or participated in Chinese politics. Since the founding of the association, the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa has never hoisted the flag of any Chinese government, nor has it targeted any Chinese government.

Past Presidents

The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa was established in 1958 and the board of directors is elected every two sessions. By the 50th anniversary in 2008, the 25th term of council had just expired and the 26th term of council began. However, when we trace back, it was found that many of these years had exceptions. This is mainly because the date of each election was not fixed, and some were even pushed back a year.

The Aim of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa

The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa’s regulations have been amended over time. At the beginning of the establishment, Christian priests served on the committee, and the regulations stated that they should promote Christianity. By the 1970s, the promotion of Christianity had vanished.

Since its establishment, the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa has declared itself an independent organization. It is not affiliated with or bound by other organizations and is financially independent. In 1977, the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa again emphasized its absolute neutrality in politics and religion.

When Joe G.Hum was the chairperson of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa, two long-term goals were set. The first is to promote Chinese culture and the healthy development of the Chinese community; The other is to develop mutual understanding between the Chinese community and other ethnic groups in Canada, with particular emphasis on considering the interests of all Canadians. These two goals continue to have far-reaching and profound impacts on the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa and the Chinese community. 

The introduction of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa has had several versions over time. The contents of the latest version are as follows: 

“加京中华会馆(Chinese Community Association of Ottawa)是成立于一九五八年的非牟利机构,旨在满足国家首都地区(渥太华-卡尔顿-赫尔地区)的社区文化和服务需要。成立初期,开会地点是在阿尔伯特街的国泰酒家。数年来,会馆职能多有增加。一九八二年迁入现址佛罗伦斯街(Florence St)八十号。 


There are 27 board members who are publicly elected every two years. All Chinese Canadians who have official immigration and citizenship status in Canada and who have lived in the National Capital Region for more than one year are eligible. All directors are unpaid. 

The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa organizes and sponsors many activities, such as the annual Canadian Chinese Spring Festival gathering in Beijing, art exhibitions, concerts, ping-pong and tennis competitions, go competitions, Chinese field trips, visits to seniors in hospital, Chinese cemetery visits, lion dance and martial arts lessons, English versions for new immigrants, no-cost funerals for the economically disadvantaged, charitable fund-raising, meetings of political candidates, and anti-racial discrimination activities. The Chinese Community Association of Ottawa also publishes the Canadian Overseas Canadian newspaper every month, regularly produces Canadian TV programs, and has played a crucial role in the establishment of the Ottawa Chinese school, Chinese service office, and the health centre, as well as providing many other valuable services to the Ottawa community.

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