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Gold Mountain (Chinese: 金山; pinyin: Jīnshān; Cantonese Yale: Gāmsāan, "Gam Saan" in Cantonese, often rendered in English as Gum Shan or Gumshan) is a commonly used nickname for San Francisco, California, and historically used broadly by Chinese to refer to western regions of North America, including British Columbia, Canada. After gold was found in the Sierra Nevada in 1848, thousands of Chinese from Toisan in Guangdong, began to travel to the West in search of gold and riches during the California Gold Rush.

Chinese people historically referred to California and British Columbia as Gold Mountain, as evidenced by maps and returned Overseas Chinese. However, as a gold rush subsequently occurred in Australia, Bendigo in the then-colony of Victoria was referred to as "Big Gold Mountain" (大金山), and California became known as Old Gold Mountain (Chinese: 旧金山; simplified Chinese: 旧金山; traditional Chinese: 舊金山; pinyin: Jiù Jīnshān; Cantonese Yale: Gauh Gāmsāan); although "Old Gold Mountain" now specifically refers to San Francisco.


The name "Gold Mountain" was initially applied to California. Ships full of immigrants docked in San Francisco to disembark passengers, initially bound for the gold fields, but later to remain in the growing Chinese settlement in San Francisco. In the latter part of the 19th century, however, British Columbia also came to be referred to as "Gold Mountain" following the discovery of gold in the Fraser Canyon in the 1850s and the spread of Chinese settlers in British Columbia (which they also referred to as "The Colonies of T'ang" i.e. China).[1] The term thus broadened to mean "Western North America". The gold seekers in British Columbia first went to the Chinatown in Victoria, on the Colony of Vancouver Island, to obtain supplies. Victoria was the dominant political and economic centre before the economic ascendancy of Vancouver (which has its own Chinatown), and remains the official seat of political power in British Columbia today.

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  • Hasley, Karen J.: "Gold Mountain" (Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, 2012) a work of fiction describing this time in history