World Literature in English, 1998
 Under Construction, April 26, 1998
History of Chinese immigration:
four periods of migration at  a glance
  • the period of free entry (1858-84);
  • the period of restricted entry (1885-1923);
  • the period of exclusion (1924-47); and
  • the period of selective entry, 1948 to present. (Lai 8)
  • recent Taiwanese immigrants
Beyond the Golden Mountain:  
A Journey in Chinese-Canadian History 

加拿大傳統的華僑一如美國,主要來自廣東省四邑 (台山、開平、恩平、新會 ),最早的一批開荒者可說是「苦力」。十九世紀中國農村的貧困和政治動亂,驅使青年農民出外謀生。起初以為苦幹三、五年可衣錦還鄉。但因交通不便,中國戰亂,加上美、加苛刻的移民法,華工多懷著團圓夢,在這塊富裕但排斥非白人的大陸上無奈地終老。?

第一批踏上「楓葉國」土地的華人是一八五八年由美國太平洋沿岸加州北上不列顛哥倫比亞省的淘金客。隨後二十年間抵達的華工,大都受僱建造橫跨該國的加拿大太平洋鐵路。一萬七千名築路華工,很多人因此罹難或傷殘。鐵路在一八八六年落成,遭遣散的部分華工在不列顛哥倫比亞省的維多利亞,今溫哥華附近留下,經營洗衣店,中國餐館或到白人家庭當傭工。另一些則東遷,散居各地。 (「華人在加開拓文明史料照片巡迴展」簡介)

As in America, early Chinese immigrants to Canada arrived mainly from four counties in Canton Providence (Tai-shen, Kai-ping, Ng-ping and Shin-hui).  The earliest Chinese immigrants were imported for their labour.  Poverty and political turbulence in China during the 19th century forced many young farmers to go to Canada in search of a better life.  At first, they expected to return to their hometowns after 2 to 3 years of hard work.  However, the inconvenient transportation and continuing civil war in China made it impossible.  In addition, Canada's strict "anti-Chinese" legislation prevented most families of Chinese immigrants from joining them in Canada.  In the end, most early Chinese settlers stayed until their death in this rich but often unwelcoming country. 

As a result of the gold rush, the first Chinese immigrants arrived in "Maple Leaf country" in 1858 along the west coast.  Most of them settled in British Columbia.  Twenty years later, there was a large scale influx of Chinese for construction work on the final section of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  As many as 17,000 Chinese labourers came to Canada and many lost their lives or were injured during the construction period. After the railroad was completed, some Chinese workers stayed in Victoria and Vancouver to open laundries or restaurants, while others moved to eastern parts of Canada.  While early Chinese immigrants came to Canada as labourers to earn their living, today's Chinese immigrants follow a very different pattern.  Most Chinese from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China have moved to Canada for investment opportunities, better education and living conditions, or as a reaction to 1997.

Taiwanese immigrants: Yearly Amount of People Accepted

1990-3900; 1991-6400; 1992-7900; 1993-10,000; 1994-7500; 1995-7200 

1995 Family class--650 

Skilled worker 3,200 

Business class --3,300  (investor, entrepreneurs, self-employed) 

Retired (abolished category) 40 

live-in caregiver 4 


History of Chinese immigration: 
Important Dates & Development 

  • January 1788-- fifty Chinese artisans and sailors disembarked at Nootka Sound. The Chinese carpenters with the assistance of the native Indians built a two-storey house and a forty ton schooner called North West America, hte first sea-worthy ship constructed in that area. Some of the Chinese workers were assimilated by the Northwest Coast Indians. (Lee 17 )
  • the period of free entry (1858-84)
    • the late 1850's--the discovery of gold in the Fraser River 
    • Between 1880 and 1885 about 16,000 Chinese railroad workers were engaged on the railroad construction project. They spread out from various work camps along the railroad line working like an army of ants. (Lee 59 )

      • reasons for contract laborers 
    • Not only did the fabulous tales of the Gold Rush attract the poverty-stricken Chinese but at the same time, the colonizers were aware there was a need to replace the source of cheap labor lost by the abolition of the slave trade. The "time had (now) come for yellow to take the place of black at the behest of antislavery sentiment" and initiated the notorious system of the Chinese coolie trade. (Lee 17)
  • the period of restricted entry (1885-1923): anti-Chinese movements+ nativism
    • 1904--500-dollar head tax 
  • the period of exclusion (1924-47)


    The post-war recession and high unemployment as a result of demobilization touched off another wave of anti-Chinese sentiment. Labor unions called for a post-war immigration policy: during the reconstruction period there should be a more restrictive Chinese immigration legislation. ... (Lee 131) 

    In the early 1920's the opium issue and the general fear arising from the perception that Chinese Canadians were no longer satisfied with their unskilled labor status combined with the foreseeable entrance of Chinese Canadians into professional and big business enterprises caused a panic in the minds of nativists. Chinese Canadians who decided to remain in the country had broken the myth that they were sojourners. All these compound the root of what later became known as the yellow peril phobia. In order to prevent an imaginable war "between the Oriental and the Euro-Canadian for possession of British Columbia," nativists confided that the only way to stop the illusory Chiense Canaidan threat was to "handicap him, hamper him, restrict him as far as possible, put him out of the industrial and commerical running." ¡


  • the period of selective entry, 1948 to present.


    The repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 in 1947 gave little improvement toward Chinese immigration as the regulations governing Asian immigration were still applicable to Chinese. No Chinese, except those who were wives and children under 18 years of age of Canadian citizens, were allowed to land in Canada. The revocation of these regulations in 1956 was the first time the Canadian government unravelled its immigration law toward s Chinese-Canadian community. In early 1962 the federal government further amended the immigration regulations. Discriminatory racial wording which appeared in the preceding regulations were removed. (Lee169¡^ 


    High Hope and Harsh Reality:

    Pictures of Early Chinese immigrants as Contract Laborers

    From "Beyond The Gold Mountain" Exhibition, 1997


    1913 Chinese Headtax Certificate 
    Courtesy Barkerville Historical Town, Barkerville

    ¦bºû¦h§Q¨È¬Ùij·|®Ç²±¸Ë©ç·Ó (¨õ¸Ö¬ÙÀÉ®×À]´f­É)

    • Railroad Workers:
    µØ¤u¦b¤sÀ­¤¤«Ø¥[®³¤j¤Ó¥­¬vÅK¸ô    ¤@¤K¤K¥|¦~ (¥[®³¤j°ê®aÀÉ®×À]´f­É)
    • Fish Cannery and Other Workers:
      ¦bSweeney CooperageªO¼t¤u§@ªºµØ¤H    ¬ù¤@¤E¤@¤T¦Ü¤@¤E¤@¤­¦~ 

    Relevant Links:

    References & Acknowledgments:
    • Lai, David Chuenyan. Chinatowns: Towns Within Cities in Canada. Vancouver: University of BC P, 1988.
    • ¡uµØ¤H¦b¥[¶}©Ý¤å©ú¥v®Æ·Ó¤ù¨µ°j®i¡v²¤¶.  ¡}Beyond The Gold Mountain: A Journey in Chinese-Canadian History, 1997¡^.  ¥D¿ì³æ¦ì¡G°ê¥ß¾ú¥v³Õª«À]¡B¥[®³¤j¤å©ú³Õª«À]¡B¥[®³¤j¾n¥x¥_¶T©ö¿ì¨Æ³B, April-June, 1997¡C
    •   Lee, Wai-man. Portraits of a Challenge: An Illustrated History of the Chinese Canadians. Council of Chinese Canadians in Ontario, 1984.
    • Special Thanks to --

        Canadian Museum of Civilization and The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei for providing the information and the precious photographs on this page.


                background: ¦b«ØÅK¸ô (¨õ¸Ö¬ÙÀÉ®×À]­É)
    Early Immigrants & Racism