Chinese Imigrarion into Canada Historical Synthesis

Reads: 208  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Submission for Canadian History Essay competition.

Submitted: May 05, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 05, 2016

A A A

A A A


Chinese people have been immigrating to Canada since the 19th century, but not many people are familiar with the circumstances they faced and how they were treated in Canada. They migrated to Canada in search of economic opportunities, but wistfully faced discrimination, whilst today's Chinese immigrants  enjoy equity in a vastly cheerful community. In this synthesis essay, using both primary and secondary sources, I will be comparing and contrasting how 19th century Chinese immigrants were received, treated, and the impact they had on their communities to 20th century Chinese immigrants. 

19th century Chinese immigrants received inequity and harsh discrimination as they were arriving in Canada, whilst 20th century Chinese immigrants achieve a better future with equality. In 1857, gold was discovered throughout the Fraser Valley. Chinese men flooded in from Asia and San Fransisco on crowded boats in search of riches. During this gold rush, Chinese men and women were subjected to racial inequality.  The prosperous period of the gold rush came to an end in 1865, and the Chinese men were forced to search for other jobs. An increasing amount of unemployed Caucasian people began to blame the Chinese people for taking their jobs. Many Chinese people were employed to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) where they encountered a hostile reception from the people of British Columbia. At the very end of the 19th century, the government of Canada introduced a new immigration law. A head tax was introduced to discourage Chinese people from working in Canada. The cost was $50, which was too expensive for Chinese men to afford since they roughly earned only $225 a year. This discrimination towards Chinese people throughout the 19th century carried into the 20th century, as the government keep introducing new laws. The head tax continued to grow to $100 in 1901 and to $500 in 1903. Immigrants who travelled to Canada unaware of the head tax were kept like prisoners in immigration centres until their families proceeded to pay their taxes. They carved their despair into the walls of the immigration centres. One of their carvings reads "Having amassed several hundred dollars, I left my native home for a foreign land. To my surprise, I was kept inside a prison cell! I can see neither the world outside nor my dear parents. When I think of them, tears begin to stream down. To whom can I confide my mournful sorrow". By 1923, Canada passed an exclusion act banning all Chinese immigrants. Families were split in two, having some in Canada and some still in China. This exclusion act carried on until 1943, when it was repealed due to Canadian-born Chinese men fighting for Canada in 1939. After this law was repealed Chinese immigration flowed smoothly, and now one can see many Chinese politicians , doctors, and police officers in today's society. The above clearly illustrates how the 19th century Chinese immigrants received inequity and harsh discrimination as they were arriving in Canada, whilst 20th century saw Chinese immigrants achieving a better future with equality.

Throughout the 19th century and up until halfway through the 20th century, a majority of Chinese Canadians lived in Vancouver's Chinatown, which was a significant place for business and family for them. The following a brief history of how Chinatown became the centre for Chinese people:  Vancouver's Chinatown shares its origin with Vancouver itself. During the construction of the CPR, around 17,000 Chinese labourers lived in the lumber mill town that grew into Vancouver. As Vancouver grew after the completion of the CPR, so did the influx of Chinese immigrants. Despite the passing of the racially motivated head tax of 1885, housing demands soared for the Chinese. A community was formed in the bustling streets of Chinatown. During the 19th century Chinatown continued to build an increasing population of Chinese families. The place became a safe haven from racism, especially during the exclusion act. Many Chinese entrepreneurs started businesses in Chinatown, like Jack Chow owner of Jack Chows Insurance. Jack Chow, along with many other Chinese business owners, helped to create Chinatown into what it is today. While interviewing Jack Chow's son, Rod Chow, I learned that until the 1930's, Chinese people were only allowed to live in Chinatown. This ruling changed after 1930 and today Chinese people live all over Canada alongside other nationalities. As the above illustrates both the 19th and 20th century saw Chinatown as an important part of Chinese history filled with families, business, and much more.

19th century Chinese immigrants had a bustling community within themselves outside of other ethnic groups in Vancouver, while 20th Century Chinese immigrants brought vast change to the their Vancouver's community through food, culture, and music, at the same time incorporating Western culture into their own. Chinatown was the home to family, business, and safety of 19th century Chinese people. Racism and fear of unknown disease from Caucasian people outside of Chinatown are what drove the Chinese to stay locked in their communities. Although this may seem like a problem, it was not that bad. Family associations such as the Lee family and the Wong family had community buildings. The community that built up in Chinatown remained strictly that area until the 1930's. Once the racism towards Chinese people began to die down, their community began to grow outside of the borders of Chinatown. Throughout Vancouver, Chinese food places and grocery stores began to appear. The Chinese community began to incorporate Western culture into their own. Comparing the two centuries shows that the 19th century saw the Chinese community strictly located in Chinatown, but throughout the 20th century their community was very widespread with Western culture intermixed.

Early Chinese immigrants migrated to Canada in search of economic  opportunities, but wistfully faced discrimination, whilst today's Chinese immigrants  enjoy equity in a vastly cheerful community. In this synthesis essay, using both primary and secondary sources, I  compared and contrasted how 19th century Chinese Canadians were received, treated, and the impact they had on their communities to 20th century. 

 


© Copyright 2017 Michael Fourie. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Michael Fourie

Synthesis Essay

Essay / Historical Fiction

Popular Tags