Kamloops Chinese Cemetery - Kamloops, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 50° 40.670 W 120° 21.574
10U E 686545 N 5617325
Quick Description: Listed in the Kamloops Heritage Register and at Historical Places Canada, The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is a most interesting place to visit while in Kamloops.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 8/28/2020 10:17:54 AM
Waymark Code: WM131WG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 2

Long Description:
Within the cemetery is a Chinese pagoda styled gazebo, within which are several informational signs telling us of aspects of the chinese community, the cemetery, and individuals who are buried here.

The cemetery was begun in the 1860s, with the first interments being those of Chinese miners who died in the Kamloops area. Later, when the CPR's transcontinental line was being built through this area in the mid 1880s, thousands of Chinese railroad workers lived in the area, many drifting elsewhere after the completion of the railway. Many, however, remained in the area and are the ancestors of much of the present Chinese community in Kamloops. Every year the Ching Ming Festival is still performed out of respect for those buried in this cemetery.

The cemetery itself is now a British Columbia Heritage Site.

Following is text from the historical marker at the cemetery.
Chinese Heritage Cemetery
Past
in 1887 a Kamloops Sentinel newepaper reporter stumbled onto a Chinese grave site which is now known as the Kamloops Chinese Heritage Cemetery. It dates back to approximately the 1860s.

Present
Deterioration due to age has made it necessary to replace some structures in the Chinese Heritage Cemetery in order for it to retain its function for the Chinese community. Groups involved in its restoration have attempted to follow the original design of the cemetery as closely as possible. New structures have been added to enhance the site.
Kamloops Chinese Cemetery
DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE
The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is located north of Lombard Street and east of Hudson's Bay Trail in an area known as the Powers Addition, on the southwestern outskirts of downtown Kamloops. It is situated on a sloped and open grassland site with panoramic views of the Thompson River and Mount Paul. The cemetery contains marked and unmarked graves of Chinese who lived and worked in Kamloops, as well as monuments associated with traditional Chinese death ritual practices.

HERITAGE VALUE
The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is valued as a representation of the impact of the railway on Kamloops, and the resulting substantial Chinese population, with its strong sense of community that continues to the present day. When the Canadian Pacific Railway was built through Kamloops in the 1880s, over 17,000 Chinese workers were brought in to build the Yale-Kamloops line. At the conclusion of the project, many Chinese settled temporarily in Kamloops, increasing the Chinese population to over 400 residents by 1890. Chinese residents were given a small section west of First Avenue in the original town site for their Chinatown.

The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is also valued as an illustration of traditional Chinese death ritual practices transplanted into the Western frontier context. Exacerbated by political turmoil in China, from approximately the 1850s to the 1910s, thousands of Chinese migrated from Guangdong, China, to frontier gold rush sites around the world. The Guangdong Chinese practiced secondary burial, a traditional custom where, after seven to ten years, bones of the deceased were disinterred by organized bone collectors, transferred to a centralized bone house and shipped back to China for reburial in family plots. To accommodate this custom, temporary Chinese burial grounds were set up in many communities; most followed a basic blueprint in their spatial arrangement and material culture. Traditional Chinese rituals associated with the choice of site (fengshui), burial of the deceased and cyclical rituals such as Qing Ming were also carried out. The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery shows clear evidence of these traditional Chinese death ritual practices. For example, in keeping with important tenets of fengshui, the cemetery is aligned on a north-south axis on a sloped site with views of the Thompson River. Evidence of disinterred plots is also visible on the landscape, and traditional funerary monuments are present, including a stone altar and a funerary burner. Non-Chinese influences can be discerned in the tombstone styles. The tradition of honouring the deceased continues to the present day with the recent addition of wooden plank grave markers and the Asian-inspired pagoda and gateway.

The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is further valued as one of Canada’s largest and oldest intact Chinese cemeteries and as a symbol of the transition of the Kamloops Chinese community from temporary to permanent in the 1920s. The majority of early Chinese immigrants in Kamloops were there temporarily, intending to return home to their families after five to ten years. First mentioned in the Inland Sentinel in 1887, the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery was set up by the Chinese as a temporary burial place. As the Chinese were banned from burying their deceased in the Pioneer Cemetery, the Hudson’s Bay Company allowed them to select a burial site on land south of town. The site was demarcated by a wooden picket fence, and a stone altar and burner were placed at the north end of the cemetery. Graves remained unmarked until after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, when Chinese began to settle permanently in Kamloops. This change is clearly indicated by the introduction of permanent, marked tombstones, first installed in 1927. Most marked graves date from the 1930s to the 1960s. The Chinese Cemetery was closed in 1979, and the site now contains approximately 125 burial plots, over 50 of which were disinterred. In recent years, members of the Chinese community have been actively involved in restoring and rehabilitating the Chinese Cemetery as a place of community commemoration and worship, through a partnership between the City of Kamloops and the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery Heritage Society.

CHARACTER-DEFINING ELEMENTS
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery include its:
- location on sloped, rolling topography with views of the Thompson River and Mount Paul
- situation on an open plot of grass and sagebrush vegetation, north of Lombard Street and east of Hudson's Bay Trail
- original and early elements of the burial ground including interred and disinterred grave plots and cast concrete gate posts
- variety of permanent gravestone materials such as carved granite, cast concrete and ceramic tile grave markers set on a north-south axis and inscribed with the names and birthplaces of the deceased
- variety of gravestone styles, such as shouldered and domed headstones with Masonic and Chinese symbols
- variety of modern commemorative structures associated with traditional Chinese death ritual practices, such as the wooden plank grave markers, the cast concrete altar, funerary burner and memorial, wooden pagoda and Asian-inspired wooden gateway
From Historic Places Canada
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

Address:
850 Lombard Street
Kamloops, BC
V2C 1B7


Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
To log a visit to a Waymark in this category at least one photo of the property, taken by the visitor, must be included with the visit, as well any comments they have concerning either their visit or the site itself. Suggested inclusions are: what you like about the site, its history, any deviations from the description in the heritage listing noted by the visitor, and the overall state of repair of the site.
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