The Lytton Chinese History Museum will collect, preserve and display artifacts and photos with the goal of encouraging greater interest in, and understanding of, the experiences, hardships, and contributions made in BC’s Interior by thousands of Chinese miners, railway workers, merchants, and farmers.
In 1980, Lorna and Bernie Fandrich purchased an empty parcel of land at 145 Main Street, Lytton. Soon after, they were given an obscure 1934 newspaper article that referred to a Chinese Joss House or temple at that location in the 1880s.
Lorna began to envision a place that would honor and recognize the culture, sacrifices, and contributions of Chinese who came to Canada to mine for gold, work on the railroads and become merchants.
In 2014, Lorna Fandrich decided to commence with the project. From a graph paper sketch and a basic building rendition, after many hours to prepare the building site and a year-long period of construction, the Lytton Chinese History Museum opened on May 13, 2017.
The Lytton Chinese History Museum sits proudly on the provincially recognized heritage site that once housed the Lytton Joss House (1881-1928).
Traditionally, a Joss House is a place within a communal house where deities are set up on an altar for Chinese people to go and give thanks, or to pray for good health and peace.
Circa 1881, a building known as the Lytton Joss House was built for Chinese people in the Lytton area. It served as a guest house, community meeting space, and a place of religion. Quan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy) and Shen Nong (the God of Agriculture) were among the deities honored there.
The original building was typical of its time, with wood frame construction and wood siding. The entrance was from Lytton’s Main Street and was more elaborate than the other three sides.
The interior of the Joss House was divided into three useful spaces: the main area where the altar and statues resided, a smaller room that served as a guest room, and a small caretaker’s quarters. When the two entrance doors were opened, the altar that housed the deities was clearly visible from the street.
Use of the Lytton Joss House declined by the turn of the century, and a neighboring property owner acquired the building in 1928.
The site was granted official heritage status under Heritage BC’s Chinese Historic Places Recognition Project in 2016. Recognized as a historic place with provincial significance, the Lytton Joss House is included in the BC Register of Historic Places and has been suggested for inclusion in the Canada Register of Historic Places.
The Lytton Chinese History Museum is owned and operated by sole proprietor Lorna Fandrich.
Lorna is a lay researcher, businesswoman, and grandmother who has been in Lytton for four decades. As Executive Director of the Museum, she is responsible for collecting, curating, cataloguing, and hosting visitors.
The Museum’s team also includes a small group of volunteers that assist in research, conservation and cataloguing of items.
Since 2016, the Lytton Chinese History Museum has been committed to preserving and presenting the history of Chinese people in Lytton and the Interior of British Columbia. Although entrance fees and retail purchases help to offset some of the operational costs, your donations and support are always welcome. Please contact us for more information.
Part of the museum’s role is to preserve artifacts for future generations. We are grateful to the many individuals who have contributed personal and family items to the collection. When pieces are donated, the museum staff will record information about the item and you or your relative’s connection to the artifact. It will be given an accession number that correlates to the information on file. Then it will be photographed and stored with museum standards and the information and photographs will be added to our online database.
We are not able to guarantee if or when we will exhibit artifacts. We do not permanently affix signs or plaques to objects because it is distracting to visitors who are viewing them on exhibit.
If you have questions about donating you or have something you would like to donate please contact us.