1950s Halifax Chinese Directories

Written by Dandan, staff member, Halifax Central Library 

 As a person who loves books, especially print books, it made sense that I ended up working in a library. Everyone knows that working in a library does not mean that we have to read every single book on the shelf, however, I was without words when a coworker showed me two Chinese Directories (Halifax Directories written for a Chinese audience), published by the Chinese Publicity Bureau back in the 1950s. I felt like I was reconnected with two old friends that I hadn't seen in years.

Walk down memory lane 

I love everything old: old friends, old clothes, old houses, old books, old music, and old wine. As a new Canadian, I found myself very attached to these two old directories. As I was flipping through the pages, I thought how nice it would have been to visit the coffee shop that used to be at the corner of North Street, spending the whole afternoon watching people walk by. Immersed in a daydream, I was suddenly craving a coffee. I was tempted to grab my coat and run to a coffee shop to fulfill this sweet daydream.

A hidden treasure 

The 1952 Chinese Directory not only looks old, but smells old. I love the smell of old books. As it is the second edition of the Chinese Directory of Halifax, it contains a complete listing of Chinese houses and home owners in the city of Halifax, and an alphabetically arranged list of business houses, professionals, and private citizens—all together with a classified business directory. If you're interested in food (like I am), on pages 4-5 of the classified section, you will find the information about the restaurants and cafés that were in Halifax in 1952. The 1962 volume, the 11th edition of the Chinese Directory, broadens the scope to include all the maritime provinces.

My eyes were drawn to the business cards, strewn across the pages. They bear little resemblance to modern business cards which, by comparison, are dull to look at. These eye-catching cards are handwritten in a beautifully old-fashioned way. Business owners took advantage of the directory's popularity and made their cards as attractive and unique as possible. If you are a person who is nostalgic, you must come and have a look at them. This may also appeal to small business owners looking for inspiration from business advertisement from the past. This directory is a resource for many types of research, including genealogy.

It's been years since we moved to Canada, but I feel a deep affection for the country that provided my childhood memories, and the culture in which I learned to make many traditional Chinese dishes. I do love food! With the directory in my hand, I felt like I was traveling back in time. It warmed my heart.

View the directory 

Curious? Come to Halifax Central Library and spend your afternoon in the Local History Room reading this old friend.

You can also view a digitized version of the 1952 Chinese Directory of Halifax here, opens a new window




这本1952年的哈利法克斯生活指南,不仅看起来很旧很古老,泛黄的页面给人一种莫名的暖感,闻起来更有一种奇妙而温暖的皮革味!它包含了哈利法克斯市中国住户的完整列表,以及按字母顺序排列的商业公司和专业人士名单。虽然在五十年代还不存在互联网,有这本便利的生活指南在手,我相信生活在那个年代的中国居民可以不费吹灰之力就找到他们想要的信息。1962年出版的这本大西洋省生活指南是该套指南的第11版。内容上除了一些改进以增加目录的价值和实用性, 基本上没有什么别的大的变动。