City in Colour

Rediscovered Stories of Victoria's Multicultural Past

By (author): May Q. Wong
ISBN 9781771512855
Softcover | Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 7.5 in
352 Pages

About the Book

A timely, intriguing collection of the overlooked stories of Victoria’s pioneers, trailblazers, and community builders who were also diverse people of colour.

Often described as “more English than the English,” the city of Victoria has a much more ethnically diverse background than historical record and current literature reveal. Significant contributions were made by many people of colour with fascinating stories, including:

  • the Kanaka, or Hawaiian Islanders, who constructed Fort Victoria, and members of the Kanaka community such as Maria Mahoi and William Naukana
  • three Metis matriarchs—Amelia Connolly Douglas, Josette Legacé Work, and Isabelle M. Mainville Ross
  • the Victoria Voltigeurs, the earliest police presence in the Colony of Vancouver Island, and who were primarily men of colour
  • Grafton Tyler Brown, now known in the United States as one of the first and best African American artists of the American West
  • Manzo Nagano, Canada’s first recorded immigrant from Japan
  • and many more

With information about various cultural communities in early Victoria and significant dates, May Wong’s City in Colour is a collection of fascinating stories of unsung characters whose stories are at the heart of Victoria’s history.

About the Author(s)

May Q. Wong was born to Chinese immigrants and raised in Montreal along "the Main" a major boulevard that connects Canada's most diverse neighbourhoods. Educated at McGill University and the University of Victoria, she spent her career in the British Columbia Public Service working toward improving the lives of those in need. Since retiring in 2004, May has devoted her time to travelling with her husband and writing about the people they have met and the places they have been. Wong is the author of the memoir, A Cowherd in Paradise: From China to Canada and the non-fiction history of Victoria's multicultural past, City in Colour. She lives in Victoria, BC.


“This book is not meant to be a comprehensive history of Victoria’s multicultural make-up; instead it profiles noted individuals from various cultural or racial backgrounds—including Greek, Hawaiian, Métis, Black, Jewish, Chinese, and Japanese—and offers intriguing glimpses into some of the key settlers whose legacies are visible today . . . A valuable book that shows the influence of many immigrant groups whose contributions have perhaps not been recognized satisfactorily until now.” —BC History

City in Colour is a lively, very readable and welcome celebration of Victoria’s multicultural heritage . . . All in all, a tour de force.” —The Ormsby Review