United Chinese Church Archives
Chinese United Church of Canada: The Vancouver and Moose Jaw Stories
Chinese mission in the United Church of Canada originated from the Method Chinese Mission back in the 1860s. Rev. Edward White reported at the denominational meeting that two Chinese were present at his Sunday School Class even before the first Methodist Church in Queensborough (New Westminster) was built. The sister of Mrs. White opened an evening school in New Westminster for the Chinese workers. In 1883, the New Westminster Chinese School was opened in the parsonage of Rev. Ebenezer Robson. His wife and daughter served as the volunteer teachers.
The Vancouver Story
With the arrival of Rev. Chan Sing Kai, the Chinese Mission in Vancouver was launched in 1888 with a facility on Carrall Street. After Rev. Chan moved to Victoria in 1891, the work was picked up by a layman until Rev. John E. Gardiner took the ministry from 1895-1896. Gardiner was succeeded by Chan Yu Tan, brother of Chan Sing Kai. After using the Carrall Street facility for six years, the mission moved to a new location on Beatty Street. In 1906, the new building was completed with an auditorium that can seat two hundred and fifty, an apartment on the second floor for the pastor and residence for thirty young Chinese men. Electricity and heat ran through the entire building. With continuous growth, the Beatty building was sold in 1926 and the mission moved to a new location on Pender and Dunlevy.
The Chinese United Mission/Church in Vancouver has been blessed with many faithful and capable Christian ministers and volunteers who were instrumental to the growth of the church over the years. Readers who are interested in their stories could refer to the 93rd Anniversary Booklet of Chinese United Church, Vancouver.
The Moose Jaw Story (adapted from Gale Chow’s essay, “Chinese United Church, Historical Remarks and Reflections)
As early as 1911, there were a few hundred Chinese living in Moose Jaw. Most of them were engaged in the laundry and restaurant businesses while others worked as farmers, cooks and dishwashers for the white Canadians. The River Street of Moose Jaw was known as “Little Chicago” where Chinese workers spent their leisure time in gambling.
Mr. Yin Sun Yip was appointed as the first Chinese missionary worker. The Chinese church was officially established in June 1912 with three founding members: George Wong, Charlie, and Tom Yip. The mission was continuously supported by local congregations with a supply of English teachers and youth leaders. In the 1950’s the church became known as the Moose Jaw Chinese United Church and moved to a heritage facility which was built in 1883. The change of ministers coupled with the decrease in Chinese population in Moose Jaw caused decline in church membership. The church was closed down on July 31, 2011. Gale Chow, long time member of the church described that it was the “saddest day in my life, I will carry it to the end of my life.”
Moose Jaw Chinese United Church is now history. However, being the only ethnic church in Moose Jaw, its historical significance and spiritual fruit extends to generations followed.
93rd Anniversary Booklet of Chinese United Church, Vancouver BC.
Chow, Gale. “Chinese United Church: Historical Remarks and Reflections.” July 31, 2011.