Arlene Chan (historian and author), Toronto

Gateway to Ontario

Toronto’s Chinatown East has a beautiful gateway – a Chinese architectural tradition first introduced in British Columbia in the 1880s.

As a writer and Chinatown historian, I find inspiration in the many gateways that grace Chinatowns in Toronto, Ottawa and across Canada. They speak to me about the triumph of the passage of time, about how far we have advanced since those early years. Walking under the arch used to be a one-way entrance into an ethnic enclave, avoided and denigrated by the larger society. Today, our identity as Canadians is intrinsically tied not only to the racial and ethnocultural diversity that we embrace and celebrate as a source of pride, but also a broadened inclusivity of people of all ages, faiths, genders, abilities and sexual orientations. The gateway is open for two-way passages – allowing us easily to cross back and forth and, in the process, teaching us about each other and nurturing an inclusive society.

The gateway has been well travelled and this is what makes Ontario great.