harling point

Today’s blog is about history in Victoria, BC. Harling Point is the place to find Canada’s oldest Chinese Cemetery, designated as a Canadian historical site. It was chosen by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in 1903 for its ideal feng shui properties. 

The site, backed by Gonzales Hill, is flanked on both sides by rock platforms of higher elevation and commands an open view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In geomantic terms, the site was guarded by the “Azure Dragon” on its left and by the “White Tiger” on its right and was embraced by a wide stretch of water — a symbol of wealth and affluence. Furthermore, it was believed that the souls of the deceased hovering over their tombs would enjoy viewing passing vessels bound for China.  

David Chuenyan Lai

Following traditional practices of internment, the Chinese people believed that after a person’s death the individual’s soul still existed and hovered over the individual’s tomb. If a Chinese person died in a foreign country, that person’s soul would be homeless and therefore unable to rest until the person’s body was shipped back to China and buried in its home village. After seven years, they were disinterred. Bones were cleaned up and the remains packaged to be shipped back to China for eventual burial in the immigrants’ ancestral home villages. Beginning with the war with Japan (1931-1945), which carried into World War II, and the following Chinese Revolution, this practice was no longer possible.

Today the Chinese Cemetery continues to be maintained by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. Through the gates you can see the twin towers of the ceremonial altar, used for burning joss sticks and for offerings of food.

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