Chinese-Canadian History

SOME SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS IN CHINESE-CANADIAN HISTORY

1788
John Meare arrives in Nootka Sound on Canada’s Pacific coast,
with two ships and 50 Chinese carpenters and craftsmen.
They build a two-storied front and a schooner, but are later
captured by the Spanish and taken to Mexico.

1858
The first Chinese gold-miners arrive in British Columbia from
San Francisco. Chinese miners join thousands of other prospector
in the trek northward along the Fraser river. Many Chinese people
who came to Canada in the nineteenth century are from Guangdong
province in southern China. Their historical arrival marks the
establishment of a continuous Chinese community in Canada.

1860
Mrs. Kwong Lee, the first Chinese women lands in Victoria, B.C.
She is the wife of the owner of the Kwong Lee Company.

1863
The first Chinese community organization is formed,
the Hong Shun Tang, in Barkerville. A booming little town with
the largest Chinatown, including 300 Chinese residents.

1861
Won Alexander Cumyow is born in Victoria.
He is the first Chinese baby to be born in Canada.

1872
The British Colombia Qualifications of Voters Act denies the
Chinese and First Nations peoples the right to vote.

1877
Chinese-owned laundries are established in Toronto.

1878
A British Colombia Law is passed making it illegal for
Chinese people to be employed on construction projects
paid for by the provincial government.

1880~85
The construction of the western section of the Canadian Pacific
Railway employs thousands of Chinese workers.

1883
The Methodist home for Chinese Girls opens in Victoria to help
those escaping prostitution, slavery or marriage contracts.

1884
The federal government sets up a Royal Commission to look into
Chinese immigrants.

1885
The Canadian Pacific railway is completed. The federal government
introduces the Act of regulate Chinese Immigration into Canada,
which requires that Chinese people entering Canada to pay
a head tax $50 per person.

1886
Following the completion of the railway, some Chinese people start
small service-oriented businesses. Many move east to centres such
as Calgary, Toronto and Montreal in search of job opportunities
and less discrimination.

1895
The Sino-Japanese war ends shocking defeat for China.
Reform leaders appeal to overseas Chinese for help to modernise
and strengthen China. Chinese Board of Trade formed in Vancouver.
One of Halifax’s first Chinese-owned laundries opens.

1900
The federal government raises the head tax to $100, to take effect
in 1902. The Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese
Immigration holds hearings and concludes that limiting Chinese
immigration will not damage trade between China and Canada.

1903
The federal government raises the head tax to $500.

1906
Newfoundland passes a law requiring all Chinese immigrants
to pay a head tax of $300.

1907
An anti-Asian riot in Vancouver sweeps through Chinatown,
and damages Chinese and Japanese businesses.
The federal government pays the Chinese community $26,990
and the Japanese community $9,175 for damage to their property.

1917
Toronto’s YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Institute) holds the first
conference of Chinese students in Canada. Employers in
British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan propose importing
Chinese workers to relieve the labour shortage caused by W.W.I.

1917~1918
Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia pass
making it illegal to hire White women in Chinese-owned restaurants
and laundries. The Chinese community challenge the law in the
courts, but the ruling favours the province.

1919
A missionary report notes that the Vancouver has 6,000 Chinese
with 210 families, and Toronto has 2,100 Chinese with 35 families.

1920
A dozen Chinese veterans who served in the Canadian Army
during W.W.I. are given the right to vote.

1921
The School Board of Victoria puts all Chinese students in one
separate school. Parents take their children out of the school
and place them in the Chinese public school. The boycott lasts a year
until the Victoria board permits the Chinese students to return.

1923
The Chinese Immigration Act (the Exclusion act) prohibits Chinese
immigrants from entering Canada, with a few exceptions.
Many wives and children in China are unable to join their husbands
and fathers in Canada. All Chinese people already living in Canada,
even those born here, have to register with the government to receive
a certificate of registration.

1939~45
China and Canada are allies during W.W.II. Chinese Canadians
fight with Canadian armed forces. Chinese-Canadian communities
and organisations raise money for the Canadian war effort.

1945
British Columbia passes a law giving the vote to Asians that
are Canadian citizens and fought in W.W.II.

1947
The Exclusion Act is repealed as a result of pressure from lobbying
groups in Canada, as well as from the international community.
But the Chinese are placed under the same limits on immigration
as other Asians. Chinese Canadians are given the right to vote in
federal elections. Chinese Canadians are also allowed to work as
pharmacists, lawyers and accountants.

1949
British Columbia given all Chinese Canadians the right to vote in
Provincial elections. Federally, they voted on June 27 of that year.

1955
Margaret Gee is the first Chinese Canadian woman lawyer
called to the bar.

1957
Douglas Jung is the first Chinese Canadian elected to the federal
Parliament and became Canada’s representative at the United Nations.
A lobbing group goes to Ottawa to appeal Diefenbaker to change
immigration to improve family reunification.

1967
The immigration Act gives the Chinese the same immigration right
as other groups. Chinese immigration to Canada starts to increase
with people coming from many different locations including
Hong Kong, China, Australia, Vietnam and Jamaica.

1973
A special immigration provision grants permanent residency to Chinese
students and visitors who came to Canada prior to November, 1972.

1975
A Chinese Canadian Youth Conference is held in Vancouver on the
themes of “Identity and Awareness”.

1979
Chinese Canadians organize nationally to protest the racist depiction
of Chinese Canadians in a story called “Campus Giveaway” on CTV’s
nationally televised current events program, W5. The protest results
in the creation of the Chinese Canadian National Council.

1984
The Chinese Canadian National Council launches a campaign to get
redress from the Canadian government for the past payment of the
head tax by Chinese immigrants.

1991
An anthology of contemporary writing by Chinese Canadians,
“Many Mouthed Birds”, is published.

1993
Raymond Chan and Gary Mar become federal and provincial
members of Parliament.

1994
Thirty Chinese Canadians run for public office in the Greater
Toronto Area local elections. The federal government rejects
a call for redress on the Chinese head tax.

1995
Mina Shum’s (Chinese Canadian) film, “Double Happiness”, wins
a prize for Best First Film at the Berlin International Film Festival.

1997
In Toronto, one “all Chinese language” radio station become
established, with numerous television, and print media outlets.