The Chinese in Early 20th Century Toronto: 309 College Street

According to Valeria Mah’s thesis paper The Bachelor Society, 309 College Street in the early 1900s was occupied by a Chinese bachelor named Charlie Lung. However according to information gathered from the 1899 and 1903 Goad’s Fire Insurance Plans, the 1900 and 1901 Toronto City Directories and the Toronto Assessment Rolls there was no one living at that address. In fact, there was no building at 309 College Street. It was an empty lot according to the Goad Insurance Maps with no structures.

Despite this anomaly, Charlie Lung does appear in the City Directories of 1900 and 1901 however he is listed at 697 Yonge Street not 309 College. This could mean that there were more than one Charlie Lung’s in Toronto. The 1898 Assessment Roll has no listing for 309 College Street but there is a Charlie Lung listed at 313 College Street. According to the information, Lung ran a laundry, was the householder, and lived alone. There were no other listed tenants or family members. The building itself was owned by Florence (last name is illegible) from Montreal.

However in the 1901 Assessment Roll, Charlie Lung is listed at 313A College Street owned by Gordon Jones. He still ran a laundry business and was a householder. This might be explained by the rapid growth of the city which altered street numbers. It is not likely that Charlie Lung moved his laundry down one house between 1898 and 1901 therefore it is probable that it was the street numbers that altered.

In both Assessment Rolls, Lung’s religion is listed as Chinese. This listing of Lung’s ethnic and racial background as a religion highlights the ‘othering’ of the Chinese in Toronto at the time and the ignorance of Chinese culture.

Works Cited

Assessment Roll (1898): Ward 4 Division 2; City of Toronto Archives.

Assessment Roll (1901): Ward 4 Division 2; City of Toronto Archives.

Goad’s Fire Insurance Map (1899 & 1903); City of Toronto Archives Website.

Mah, Valerie.  The “Bachelor” Society. A Look at Toronto’s Early Chinese Community from 1878 – 1924 (unpublished, 1978).

Toronto City Directory, 1900 & 1901; City of Toronto Archives.

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