Large numbers of Chinese immigrants came to Canada in the 1800s to work on the railroad. Upon completion of the line in 1885, the Canadian government reneged on a promise to provide passage home to China, leaving thousands of workers stranded in a strange country.
The Chinese workers banded together in communities where they shared language, customs, and familiar foods. The first Chinese enclave in Calgary was formed in the 1880s, but it was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1886.
The rebuilt community was displaced again when railroad lines were run through the settlement. The current Chinatown was formed in 1910.
It was threatened again in 1966, when the city planned on building a new freewya through the heart of Chinatown. In 1973, the Calgary Chinatown Development Task Force (CCDTF) was formed to opposed the highway. The CCDTF brought together a strong coalition of community memebers and leaders, which led to the passing of the Chinatown Design Brief by the city council in 1976, defining and protecting the boundaries of Calgary’s Chinatown.
Chinatown’s growth has continued with developments such as the Dragon Mall and the Chinese Cultural Centre.
The city budgeted half a million dollars for the Chinatown centennial celebration in 2010.