Gangs, Secret Societies, or What?
existed in Victoria’s early years. The main ones were
the Chee Kung Tong (CKT) and the Hip
Sing Tong (HST). These tongs were rival branches (or
“lodges”) of the Hongmen Society, a secret
society formed in China in the 1760s with the purpose of tossing out the
Manchu Regime and restoring the Ming Dynasty to power.
branches of the same society became rivals is not exactly
clear. In his writings on tongs, noted urban geographer and Chinatown specialist Dr.
Cheun-Yan David Lai notes the close, clan-like
relationships in tongs. If someone in a tong slighted or
hurt a member of another tong, the others in the tong would set
out to avenge the wronged member. It may well be that a “family
feud” of sorts developed.
Turf wars may
also have had a hand in the developing rivalry. Since many
tongs were initially dependent on revenues from what we would view
as less than legitimate sources (prostitution, gambling and opium
dens), it stands to reason that competition for customers and real
estate was intense.
Source: Lai, Chuen-Yan David, Chinatowns:
Towns Within Cities in Canada, University of British
Columbia Press, Vancouver, 1988.