The Original Tam Kung Temple (building on right)
Courtesy: B.C. Archives: B-06854

Con-Temple-ations. . .

The two surviving temples in Victoria are the Tam Kung Temple on Government Street and the Palace of the Sages (sometimes translated as “Palace of All Saints” or variations thereof) which is now located in the Chinese Public School.

The Kam Tung Temple was originally a one-storey structure.  In fact, it appears to have been a house rented by the Hakka who managed to get enough money together to purchase it in 1877.  A brick façade was added to the building to make it more Oriental in appearance and it remained in that state until 1911, when it was torn down and replaced by the present three storey structure at 1713 Government.  The temple took up the third floor of the new Yen-Wo Society building, where it remains today.

Tam Kung is not a widely known deity; his legends seem to have been disseminated mainly in the south of China where he is believed to have lived and from where most of the Chinese immigrants to Victoria originally hailed.  Depending on which legend you believe, he was either a messiah-like individual, the head of the armies who repelled Hong Kong against Mongolian invaders, or the last emperor of the Song Dynasty who took “Tam Kung” as an assumed name.

The Palace of the Sages was originally located on the third floor of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) building at what is now 556 Fisgard.  There are five deities represented in this temple: the god of wealth (Zhao Yuan Tan), the god of medicine (Hua Tuo), the queen of Heaven (Tian Hou), the god of the military (Kwan Yu), and the great Chinese philosopher Confucious.

While this building still stands (one of the few buildings in present-day Victoria that are represented on the 1885 fire insurance map), the temple itself was relocated to the Chinese Public School building in the 1960s.

An Idol from the Victoria Confucian Temple said to be Kuan Gong, the God of War
Courtesy B.C. Archives: B-06855


Lai, Cheun-Yan David and Pamela Madoff, Building and Rebuilding Harmony: The Gateway to Victoria's Chinatown, Western Geographical Series, Victoria, 1997.

Lai, Chinatown the Forbidden City.

What do the papers say?