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Chinese Canadians: Facing Discrimination and Overcoming It . CHC2D8 Ms. Gluskin. Timeline of Events Affecting Chinese Canadians. 1850s : many Chinese men came to mine gold in BC

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timeline of events affecting chinese canadians
Timeline of Events Affecting Chinese Canadians
  • 1850s: many Chinese men came to mine gold in BC
  • 1880-1885: 15 000 Chinese workers (who got paid lower wages than others) helped build the CPR (railway) across Canada
  • 1885: Act to Restrict and Regulate Chinese Immigration (they had to pay $10 to land in Canada, later raised to $500 in 1903)
  • 1907: anti-immigrant rally in Vancouver turned into riots in Chinatown and Japantown to protest immigration from Asia
  • 1923: Chinese Immigration Act banned Chinese immigrants except merchants, diplomats, foreign students
  • 1947: It became a lot easier for Chinese to become Canadian citizens
  • 1967: Canada stopped applying race as a criteria (reason) for immigration. This increased Chinese immigration.
heritage minute nitroglycerine
Heritage Minute - Nitroglycerine

Heritage Minutes: CPR

head tax certificate
Head Tax Certificate

Library and Archives Canada. The Early Chinese Canadians. Head Tax Records. 2009. (March 20, 2014).

  • Read the next three slides and try to understand why so many Canadians felt discrimination against Chinese-Canadians was acceptable.
    • Remember, you are looking at their perspective.
    • You won’t agree with it, probably. It’s from a different time.
discrimination in canada
Discrimination in Canada

Early 1900s

“Many of these immigrants took low-paying jobs that other Canadians did not want. Many Canadians did not like these immigrants who spoke other languages. They were worried about losing jobs and having no money. They often blamed immigrants for low wages and unemployment.”

Hux, Allan, Brandao, Jose Antonio and Moira Wong. My Country, Our History. Toronto: Pippin, 2006. Page 30.

discrimination con t
Discrimination, con’t

“These Canadians continued to demand that the government stop accepting immigrants from non-English speaking countries because they thought too many of these immigrants would change Canada’s English culture. They also demanded that the government accept only rich immigrants because they were worried that these immigrants would take Canadian jobs. They wanted the government to discriminate against groups of people because of their race or religion. In later years, the Canadian government did exactly that. It wasn’t until the 1960s that discrimination against different racial groups became illegal.”

Ibid., p. 34.

discrimination con t1
Discrimination, con’t

Why So Hostile?

“… Blaming Chinese immigrants when the economy turned bad became a way of organizing migrants from Great Britain and Europe around the idea of "white supremacy," captured best in the phrase "White Canada Forever."

Anti-Chinese agitators [people who try to get people angry] saw that Chinese immigrants came here without families and lived simply. Therefore, they said, Chinese men did not need as much money as whites did to live on and to raise a family. They argued that the Chinese could work for lower wages and would take jobs away from white workers.”

Library and Archives Canada. The Early Chinese. Racism in Law and Society. 2009. (March 21, 2014).

the other side
The Other Side
  • Now look at some of the things Chinese-Canadians did to help build Canada.
  • Try to understand their perspective about Canada.
contributing to the building of canada
Contributing to the Building of Canada

Chinese workers building the CPR, the cross-Canada railroad, 1884.

Library and Archives Canada. Chinese at Work on CPR. 2008.,3630135&title=Chinese+at+work+on+C.P.R.+%28Canadian+Pacific+Railway%29+in+Mountains%2C+1884.+&ecopy=c006686 (March 21, 2014).

other businesses across canada
Other Businesses Across Canada

Chinese laundry bill, 1909, Peterborough, Ontario

“In an era before automatic washing machines, doing laundry was hard work. Water needed to be boiled, clothes hand-scrubbed and shirts starched in order to be ironed smooth. Anyone who could afford it would send out their laundry to be done. In cities, single men worked in factories, banks and offices. They lived in boarding houses or apartment hotels and they too needed their clothes washed.”

Library and Archives Canada. Hop-Lee First Class Hand Laundry. 2008. (March 21, 2014).


“Chinese immigrants started businesses such as laundries because they were forced out of many other professions by the increasing number of migrants who came from eastern Canada and Europe.”

Library and Archives Canada. The Early Chinese Canadians. Working Across Canada: Laundries and Cafes. 2009. (March 21, 2014).

serving in world war ii
Serving in World War II

Chinese- Canadian Soldiers from BC, 1945, in Southeast Asia. Their services helped force the Canadian government to change their discriminatory laws.

Library and Archives Canada. Chinese-Canadian Soldiers from Vancouver. 2008.,3845864&title=Chinese-Canadian+soldiers+from+Vancouver%2C+British+Columbia%2C+Canada%2C+who+served+with+the+South+East++Asia+Command+%28SEAC%29%2C+awaiting+repatriation+to+Canada%2C+No.1+Repatriation+Depot+%28Canadian+Army+Miscellaneous+Units%29%2C+Tweedsmuir+Camp%2C+Thursley%2C+England%2C+27+November+1945.+&ecopy=a211880-v6 (March 21, 2014).

one person s view
One Person’s View

“Tom Thoon or Soon Toy was born in Toi San, Guangdong, China, in 1906. He came to Canada at the age of 15, in 1921, and was subject to the $500 head-tax imposed at the time.

Tom loved his country Canada, and worked diligently to provide for his family, despite the many challenges he faced as a new immigrant. He established his own restaurant and grocery businesses in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, formally retiring in Winnipeg in 1962.

Tom was proud to be a Canadian and was grateful for life in "Gold Mountain." His greatest gift to all of us was sharing his zeal for life, a gift which has inspired us all to think beyond the "here and now."

Helen Toy, daughter of Tom Thoon (Soon) Toy”

Library and Archives Canada. The Early Chinese Canadians. Family Histories. 2009. 24, 2014).

multiple perspectives
Multiple Perspectives
  • Now that you have seen both sides you probably agree that you might be able to understand why people felt the way they did but that it was NOT right or fair.
    • Discrimination is still discrimination in any time or place.

Family Histories (PSD excerpts)


Heritage Minutes: CPR


Chinese Canadian … (ww1 and 2) photos


Chinese Canadian Women (Multicultural History Society of Ontario)

journal entry on discrimination
Journal Entry on Discrimination
  • In your writing journal, answer the following question:
    • Why did some Chinese-Canadians and Aboriginals have negative opinions about the Canadian government in the 1930s? Were their opinions justified?