Cemeteries - Chinese Cemetery at Harling Point
In 1996 the Chinese Cemetery at Harling Point was designated a National Historic Site by the Government of Canada. At Ching Ming descendants of families buried in the Chinese Cemetery still visit to burn incense, leave offerings of food and pretend paper money.
Victoria's Chinese cemetery lies near the rocky shore of Harling Point. Here simple markers are found among wildflowers in a setting selected according to the ancient concept of feng shui.
The twin towers of the ceremonial altar, used for burning joss sticks and for offerings of food, stand overlooking magnificient views toward the Olympic Mountains.
The first Chinese graves in Victoria were in the Old Burying Ground from 1858 to 1873. When Ross Bay Cemetery was opened in 1873 many of the Chinese graves were in Block L of Ross Bay Cemetery, where a Chinese altar had been erected. This land was so close to the ocean that winter storms sometimes washed away graves.
In 1903 the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Victoria bought land at Harling Point, almost within site of Ross Bay Cemetery, but farther along the waterfront. Gonzales Hill rises behind the site and rounded, rocky outcroppings nearby provide much better feng shui.
During the period from 1903 to 1908, many of the Chinese graves in Ross Bay Cemetery were exhumed and relocated to the new cemetery.
It was general practice for overseas Chinese to exhume the remains after seven years, clean and dry the bones and then ship them back to China for burial. This also allowed the plot to be re-used. This practice had been followed at Ross Bay and continued at the Chinese Cemetery up until 1933, when war in China ended this practice.
Most Chinese in Victoria were buried at Harling Point Cemetery until it was closed in the early 1950s. Newspaper Article about the Chinese Cemetery
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