The name Cannon Street had its origin from the cannons that were fired during the Penang Riots in 1867. The riot was the result of a secret society dispute when the alliance of Tua Pek Kong Hoey (Kean Teik Tong) and the Red Flag Gang fought against the alliance of the Ghee Hin Kongsi and the White Flag Gang for ten days in George Town. It was said that some of the houses still have bullet holes as a result from the riot.
According to some sources, Cannon Street (Tua Cheng Hang) originated from this event with two versions of the story. One report said that in order to suppress the riots, the colonial government fired cannons at the territory of the Tua Pek Kong Hoey and created a big hole on the street; so people called the street Big Cannon Hole (Tua Cheng Khang). Later, as the hole was levelled up, it was renamed Cannon Street (Tua Cheng Hang). Another story said that the Tua Pek Kong Hoey placed cannons on the street to resist the enemy and thus it was called Cannon Street.