Toronto Public Library creating Chinese Canadian Archive

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    Toronto Public Library creating Chinese Canadian Archive

    Toronto Public Library is looking for treasures from your grandma’s attic to build the city’s first Chinese Canadian Archive.

    Mary Rae Shantz, manager of service development, special collections and digitization, said the library is reaching out to Chinese Canadians, hoping to fill a gap in the history of one of the city’s largest communities.

    Chinese Canadians make up 12 percent of Toronto’s population, according to the 2011 census, but the library’s collections “do not reflect that,” Shantz said.

    So, the library is asking residents to contribute photos, diaries, letters and other documents that may be hiding in shoeboxes or at the bottom of closets.

    They’re especially interested in correspondence that touches on the political issues of the day, such as the fight to end the head tax, a fee placed on Chinese immigrants in 1885.

    “All of these little fragments will come together to help to create the story of the Chinese-Canadian experience in Toronto, that’s our hope,” Shantz said.

    But they also want to know about day-to-day life, like what parents were cooking for dinner, for example.

    “You go through your parents’ stuff and you start throwing out a flyer for a picnic on Toronto Island in 1912, that’s important historical information, we like to keep that stuff,” Shantz said.

    The archive will be housed at the Toronto Reference Library; it’s slated to open it to the public in the fall. For more information contact Suk Yin at TPL at

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