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The Chinese Pioneers Of Canada Essay

944 words - 4 pages

The Chinese people first immigrated to Canada in hopes of making a fortune to bring back to their homeland. Many of the first Chinese immigrants left in the 1860s because of the decaying Fraser River Gold Rush; the reason why the Chinese moved there in the first place. Building the Canadian Pacific railway required many people, something not available at the time. Many workers came from the United States, where they constructed the Union Pacific Railway. Canadians grew displeased by the growing amount of Chinese immigrants, who they felt lived far too differently. This was the start of the racism and hatred for the Chinese. Although the Chinese Pioneers were critical contributors to the ...view middle of the document...

The problems ascended with the arrival of the Japanese, causing anti-Asian riots. For example, on May 17, 1881, hundreds of people marched to Yale with picks, shovels, and crowbars, smashing the doors and windows.^ They claimed “they were in search of agent Lee Check..not finding him they “went for” the warehouse”.^ Anti-Chinese organizations were organized, and the hatred escalated. The Chinese suffered insults and humiliation. They were called chinks, Mongolians, and celestials. On July 11, 1880, 473 Chinese labourers arrived at the port of Victoria. As soon as they left the port, they were pelted with stones. ^

The government did not try to help the Chinese. In fact, politicians planned to discourage the number of Chinese immigrants. They did this by trying to add new rules on immigration. The rules were inspired by the restrictions used in Natal, South Africa. Language proficiency was tested for entry. The idea was rejected by the Liberal government. Instead, the Liberal government proposed “head taxes”. In 1885, the head taxes were $50, rising to $100 in 1901, and finally $500 in 1905. Many bills targeting the Chinese were prompted by angered Canadians. In addition, the Chinese originally had voting rights similar to British Columbians, but in 1875 the Chinese were inevitably removed from the voters’ list. A year passed and the Municipal Act was amended, to ultimately remove their voting rights.

The tasks entrusted to Chinese labourers during the construction of the CPR were incredibly dangerous. Grading work (levelling of foundation) was done by the Chinese Pioneers alone. Many Chinese workers were killed building the CPR, due to dynamite explosions, rock falls, and illnesses caused by a poor diet.^An incident on August 1880 caused a dynamite to set off in Yale, without warning. The Chinese were working there are the time. Nine Chinese labourers were killed instantly.^About three or four Chinese people died...

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