1950s Halifax Chinese Directories

written by Dandan, staff member, 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 hereopens a new window

带我回到50年代的哈利法克斯

作为一个爱书达人,我最终选择在图书馆工作是不无道理的。众所周知,在图书馆工作并不意味着我们必须要阅读书架上面的每一本书;然而,当有一天我的同事把两本中国宣传局在五十年代出版的中国工商名录(或者称哈利法克斯生活指南)放在我面前的时候,我还是惊呆了。我感觉我跟两位长年不见的好友又重逢了。

我是一个喜欢怀旧的人,喜欢所有古老的事物,老朋友,旧衣服,老房子,旧书,老歌老酒等。作为一名新移民,我更加能切身体会到这两本生活指南对当时中国社区居民的珍贵性。当我不经意间随手翻阅这本指南的时候,我便会假想自己来到了某个街角的古董咖啡店,即使让我花上一整个下午时间,哪怕只是看着人潮涌动,对我来说也是件很惬意的事。然后我突然意识到我手中缺了一杯咖啡!要不要抓起外套飞奔出去买杯咖啡来实现自己这个假想的美事呢?那是当然!

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。

我的注意力被那些遍布页面的商业名片所深深吸引住了。跟现如今枯燥又乏味的商业名片不同的是,这些精美的名片全部都是手绘的!如果你是一个想要寻找一些设计自己名片灵感的私企老板的话,这些手绘名片一定不会让你失望的!

正如你所看到的,这两本生活指南旨在充当一面镜子,映射出哈利法克斯值得注意的一切,以帮助中国新移民认识到哈法作为居住地,商业中心和工业用地的特征和优势。我们搬到加拿大已经有好几年了,但家乡是我心中永远的依恋。翻看着手中这本发黄的生活指南,仿佛时光机器把我带回了五十年代的中国,它的确温暖了我的心。

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