Dear Chinatown

As a child, 

Gazing out the window of the streetcar 

Onto the busy streets of Spadina, 

The rows of 

Sunburnt signs of red, gold 

With bold strokes and 

Phone numbers of businesses, 

The restaurants which served 

A taste of warmth and love, 

The clicking of the tiles 

Of the old men playing Mahjong and Xiangqi, 

Always fascinated me 


The endless flow of crowds bustling through the shops 

Of sweet, bright tropical fruits, 

Speaking in different tones 

That I vaguely understand, 

Always set my parents at ease 


I never quite understood 

How it gave my parents 

A tinge of nostalgia of a home 

Far far away, 

Often told to me through photos 

As their memories replay, 

Like the VHS tapes, 

With songs and stories of tight-knit communities 

Of strength and endurance, 

Of hope 


Growing up, did I begin to learn 

Of the attempts to demolish it 

Of the boycotts 

Of displacements 

Amongst other injustices driven 

By a pandemic of fear and ignorance 

Though nothing compared to 

A community’s resilience 

And hope, 

A lantern in the dark 


Now that I’m older

And hopefully wiser, 

Do I have an inkling of how Chinatown is home

Why I Wrote This Piece

This piece was inspired by my childhood growing up in Toronto. As a child, I used to go to Chinatown with my family who would often tell me stories about their life back home. It was also inspired by another time when I took a school trip to Chinatown and learned more about the history of Chinatown which made me reflect on my experiences.


  • Jenny Phung

    My name is Jenny. I am currently in Grade 12. I have a passion for learning and enjoy learning about a variety of topics such as films and storytelling. In my spare time, I can be found reading, writing, volunteering, watching movies or spending time with family and friends.

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