City in Colour

Rediscovered Stories of Victoria’s Multicultural Past

Reviewed by Joel Trono-Doerksen

Posted November 20, 2019

In City in Colour, May Wong writes about Victoria’s little-known multicultural history. For any who see Canada as a predominantly white, Protestant nation and think that multiculturalism has been around for only the last fifty years or so, Wong’s book challenges that way of thinking and presents Victoria as a city that welcomed and, mostly, embraced a wide range of people from all over the world.

City in Colour is not overly academic and reads like a guide to the city’s multicultural past. It mentions historic sites and will be useful to anyone exploring the city. Wong explains that Victoria has been populated by African-American, Hawaiian, Jewish, Chinese, and Japanese people for nearly two centuries. She tells how Hawaiians who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company were integral to keeping Victoria and the surrounding region part of Canada when there was a danger of American annexation.

Wong worked for British Columbia’s public service before retiring in 2004. Raised in Montreal by parents who immigrated from China, she has also written a memoir about the discrimination she and her family experienced in Canada.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2019-January 2020 of Canada’s History.

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