On September 14, 1896, Imperial Statesman Li Hung Chung visited Vancouver. The Vancouver Chinese Merchants’ Exchange asked the City Engineer, Col. Thomas Tracy to design a triumphal arch for the occasion, and sent him this letter of thanks for his design [Vancouver City Archives Reference Code: AM960].

One page of the letter was in Chinese, one page was in English.  You can read our volunteers’ transcriptions of these letters (and comments on the Chinese writing) below the original images.


English page: transcribed by Gent Ng, L. Ellema, and Chris Stepehenson
Col. Tracy,
Dear Sir:
Will you be pleased to
accept the accompanying pair of
flower vases as an expression of our
gratitude to you for the excellent
manner in which you so kindly
designed our arch on the occasion
of the visit of His Excellency Li
Hung Chang.
Very respectfully presented
By The Chinese Merchants Exchange

Chinese page: transcribed, translated, and with commentary by Anonymous

Translator’s note: The original Chinese text is written by one that was equivalent to a
semi-literate individual, lacking formal education as reflected by the
socio-economic conditions of the Chinese migrants of the times.

The use of certain Chinese words and/or grammar of the times was incorrect.


迎李中堂大人衆蒙Col. Tracy地利仕大人繪龍門一座畫得十分流麗故聊贈與花蹲一對仰祈笑納



–English direct transliteration to follow–

(To) welcome (His Excellency) Chung-tong Li, Official, our request to (Col.) Tracy, Official, to draft a Dragon’s Gate was very fluently received; and (which we) would like to gift a pair of flower vases in hopes of (Col. Tracy’s) satisfaction.


(For) Official Tracy’s joyful satisfaction

Chinese Hall (present day Chinese Benevolent Association)
respectfully sends

The finished arch was built on the CPR wharf to welcome His Excellency Li Hung Chung.
Here is a picture of the finished arch (Vancouver Archives reference code AM54-S4-: SGN 1081)

Vancouver Chinese Merchants’ Exchange letter to Thomas Tracy – 1896