Standing in the Doorway: Lived Histories & Experiences of the Chinese Community


Standing in the Doorway: Lived Histories and Experiences of the Chinese Community

縈繞中華文化: 華人社區歷史和生活展覽 

萦绕中华文化: 华人社区历史和生活展览 

Sur le seuil de la porte: Histoire et expériences vécues de la collectivité chinoise

Working with community partners, the York Region District School Board Museum & Archives, students from the University of Toronto's Museum Studies program, and Markham Museum created a virtual and traveling exhibition that explores the history of Chinese immigration to York Region. Titled "Standing in the Doorway: Lived Histories and Experiences of the Chinese Community," this traveling exhibition is currently on tour in schools and cultural centres in York Region.

“This exhibit tells the story of resilience and perseverance of an important community in Markham and York Region. The Chinese community is underrepresented in our exhibition schedule and our museum collections,” says Janet Reid, Curator, Markham Museum. “This community-driven exhibit celebrates our Chinese residents, and also engages and educates the wider community through a multi-part virtual and touring exhibition program.”

The in-person museum exhibition launched on September 28 2023 at Markham Museum and closed on February 25 2024. 

Standing in the Doorway re-opens at Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum on May 18 - July 27 2024. 

Want to learn more? Please contact us

exhibit panel The credit panel at Markham Museum thanks the many institutions, organizations, families and individuals that contributed to make this exhibition such a success.


Award Winning Exhibition

York Region District School Board and the Markham Museum have received two awards for this joint exhibition highlighting the history of Chinese immigration to York Region, Chinese culture and the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Thank you to the Canadian Museums Association and the Archives Association of Ontario for this honour and recognition.

group of people laughing and cerebrating Nokiidaa Public School students celebrate the exhibition opening at Markham Museum with YRDSB Board of Trustees Chair, Ron Lynn.


Markham Museum and the YRDSB Museum & Archives are delighted to announce that the exhibition “Standing In the Doorway: Lived Histories and Experiences of the Chinese Community” has received the 2024 Canadian Museum Association’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement, Audience Outreach award. The CMA Outstanding Achievement in Audience Outreach “recognizes programming that advances knowledge and understanding by reaching new audiences or enhancing existing ones.”

This community-driven exhibition could not have been possible without the active participation and engagement of over 500 members of the Chinese community in York Region. With over 300 community loans, this project was a sincere collaboration of community partners who trusted our institutions to present this history in an educational and appropriate manner.

We wholeheartedly thank the many advisors, participants, educators, students, and families that engaged in this exhibit. Thank you to the Canadian Museums Association for this award.

man looking at photographs in display case Lender Peter Quan looks at his class photograph at Markham Museum, 2023.


The AAO Institutional Award is given to an "archival institution that has contributed significantly to the advancement of the archival field or community, or has demonstrated a significant level of innovation and imagination in the establishment of outstanding or model programs or services." The 2024 AAO Institutional Award was presented the York Region District School Board Museum & Archives and the Markham Museum, "in recognition of the extraordinary and impactful community-driven exhibition which uses archival material to celebrate an important, historically marginalized, community and which develops inter-generational and cross-cultural connections and understanding."

Standing in the Doorway was developed in collaboration with community members, the Markham Museum and YRDSB. The exhibition features artifacts, photographs and stories from York Region community members, and contributors from York Region District School Board students and educators. 

Many archives and museums across Canada supported this project, and provided research, records and community connections. Using loaned archival images, records, artifacts, and oral history interviews with community members, this exhibition acknowledges the evidence of anti-Chinese racism and discrimination but also celebrates the Chinese residents of York Region and their stories of resilience and perseverance.

In addition to the museums and archives, our institutions are extremely indebted and thankful to the many, many families who contributed their loans of personal images and documents, and who shared stories and memories. This exhibition’s success was the result of the dedication of our many advisors, educators, students, participants and lenders. 

Thank you to the Archives Association of Ontario for this recognition!

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