Fan Tan Alley

Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in Canada

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, and one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. And, among other unique things, it is the home to the narrowest street in all of Canada, Fan Tan Alley. During the gold rush period of the nineteenth century, Victoria attracted a large number of Chinese immigrants, who formed their own district in the city, an area that is also the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Fan Tan Alley was a narrow street in this area, and an area of ill-repute, full of opium dens, gambling, and various other illicit activities. However, a hundred and sixty some years later, its narrow passageway is known as a tourist mecca, both for people who like strange, narrow streets, and for people who like to explore the history and shops of Victoria. At its narrowest point, the alley is just under four feet wide, and has been featured in a number of movies, including Bird on a Wire.

Fan Tan Alley starts out small, and narrows down to just under four feet in width.

Directions: Fan Tan Alley is near the main gate of Chinatown in Victoria, and connects Fisgard Street and Pandora Avenue. From the main gate, it is approximately one block, and is readily visible.

Once a place of ill-repute, Fan Tan Alley is now a tourist hotspot with many shops.

Fun Fact: The alley is named after a popular gambling game, which takes its name from its component parts;  “Fan” meaning to turn over, and “Tan” meaning to spread out.  In the game, the dealer takes a handful of buttons or beads and covers them with a brass cup. The players bet on how many buttons will be left after the dealer has removed all multiples of four. Once the bets are made, the dealer turns over the cup and spreads out the buttons to count them.