Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History General

Saltwater City

Story of Vancouver's Chinese Community

by (author) Paul Yee

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Apr 2006
General, Personal Memoirs
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2006
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 13
  • Grade: 8


Written by Paul Yee, a third-generation Chinese-Canadian in search of his own roots as well as those of the community, Saltwater City brings the perceptions of a previously diffident community to its own history. A text resonant with often painful first-person recollections combines with 200 photographs, most reproduced for the first time, to form a chronological portrait of the community from its earliest beginnings to the present. With the assimilation of its people into the mainstream of Canadian life following World War II, Saltwater City, as early Chinese immigrants called the community, was threatened, but changes in attitude, government policy, and the opening of diplomatic relations with China instead caused a renaissance. Now, Vancouver's Chinese community totals over 150,000 people, enjoys considerable political and financial influence and has matured beyond recognition into one of Canada's most successful ethnic enclaves.

About the author

Paul Yee is one of Canada's finest writers for children. He was raised in Vancouver and has worked in the archives at the Vancouver Museum. He won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature for Ghost Train. He now lives in Toronto.
Ghost Trainbr>    Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award 1996br>    Winner of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award 1997br>    Finalist for the Toronto IODE Book Award 1997
The Bone Collector's Sonbr>    Winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award 2004br>    Finalist for the Rocky Mountain Book Award 2006br>    Finalist for the Stellar Book Award (BC Teen Readers' Choice Award) 2005-6br>    Chosen as Best of 2004, Resource
Bamboobr>    Finalist for the Chocolate Lily Award 2007 (BC Readers' Choice Award)br>    Chosen as Best of 2006, Resource Links
The Jade Necklacebr>    Finalist for the Mr. Christie's Book Award 2002

Paul Yee's profile page


  • Winner, Alcuin Society Book Design Awards - Prose Non-Fiction Illustrated

Editorial Reviews

"A beautifully redesigned edition, revised to bring the story up to date."

Vancouver Sun

"Saltwater City has all the thrill of being invited into another open secret, a sort of covert culture."

CD Syndicated

"While this story is not new, few writers possess Yee's grace and polish. An archivist by training, Yee has used his professional skills to collect an impressive array of photographs, primary sources, and interviews."

Canadian Literature

Librarian Reviews

Saltwater City: An Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver

Saltwater City is a revised and updated edition of the book by the same title published in 1988. This pictorial work documents the influx of Chinese immigrants to Vancouver, BC until 2000. The text examines early immigration patterns in the late 19th century, racial hostility toward the Chinese, the process of assimilation, immigration into Vancouver in the 1960s and the “business immigration” beginning in the mid-1980s with its investors, entrepreneurs and skilled-workers. Hundreds of photographs, personal narratives and a well-researched text create a vivid impression of the lives of immigrants. Local personalities and cultural events are highlighted throughout.

Paul Yee is a third-generation Chinese-Canadian historian and archivist.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2006-2007.

Other titles by Paul Yee

Related lists

Related blog posts