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Chinese Labourers and the CPR. History of the Chinese in Canada Many Chinese men came from China to seek their fortunes in the California gold rush of.

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Presentation on theme: "Chinese Labourers and the CPR. History of the Chinese in Canada Many Chinese men came from China to seek their fortunes in the California gold rush of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chinese Labourers and the CPR

2 History of the Chinese in Canada Many Chinese men came from China to seek their fortunes in the California gold rush of When the gold ran out, many of these men headed north in 1858 to find the gold that was being reported in the Fraser Valley area of British Columbia. Most of these men came from the southern part of China. The population of China had increased and not enough food could be grown to feed everyone. Many people were without jobs. They were hungry and poor. Many decided that going to British Columbia would give their families a better life. However, families often only had enough money to send one male family member. The rest stayed behind. Once the person found work, he would send home what money he could and dream about the day when he could return to China a rich man. But the life these men found was not an easy one. They worked very hard for little pay and too often they were treated very badly in this new land.

3 Gold! ► ► The gold in California was beginning to run out. When the news spread that gold had been found along the Fraser River in British Columbia in 1858, people quickly made their way north. Many of these people were the Chinese men who had come to California to find gold. The stories of new gold reached China and soon boatloads of men were arriving to try their luck. ► ► Barkerville, a community in British Columbia that had a Chinatown in the 1860s, grew almost overnight around the gold claims. Some of the Chinese bought the rights to gold claims that had already been worked, or worked claims that had been abandoned by other gold hunters. ► ► Many Chinese men went to work in the gold mines. They worked for one-half to two-thirds less money than the White miners. They often had to give up a portion of their wages to pay back the contractor who had loaned them the money to travel across the Pacific Ocean. ► ► They also had to pay for their food and a place to stay. There was not a lot of money to send home and even less to save for themselves.

4 Cariboo Wagon Road ► ► As miners moved further north looking for gold, it was harder and harder for food and supplies to reach them. Everything had to be carried on men's backs or on horses in pack trains. From 1862 to 1864, around Chinese workers helped to build the Cariboo Wagon Road to bring in supplies. They were reliable and worked for less money than other labourers.

5 Jobs ► ► As towns sprang up around the mines there was a need for all kinds of services. There were jobs such as cooking and laundry that normally would have been done by women, but as these towns had mostly men, the Chinese men became cooks and laundrymen. ► ► Cafés and laundries opened in small mining towns and camps. Shops that carried Chinese foods and products also began to open to provide the things the Chinese workers needed. Other Chinese men became labourers, vegetable growers and sellers, fish cannery workers, household servants and merchants. Wa Lee laundry in Barkerville, an early Chinese community in British Columbia, September 1868 Chinese workers cleaning fish, circa

6 Building the Canadian Pacific Railway ► ► Canada needed a railway that would stretch from one side of the country to the other. The land in British Columbia was mountainous, making the work difficult and dangerous. Workers were in short supply. ► ► Between 1881 and 1884, as many as Chinese men came to B.C. to work as labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway. ► ► The Chinese workers worked for $1.00 a day, and from this $1.00 the workers had to still pay for their food and their camping and cooking gear. ► ► As well as being paid less, Chinese workers were given the most back- breaking and dangerous work to do. They cleared and graded the railway's roadbed. They blasted tunnels through the rock. There were accidents, fires and disasters. Landslides and dynamite blasts killed many.

7 Working on the Railway ► ► The Chinese railway workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. They did their own cooking over open outdoor fires. They mainly ate a diet of rice and dried salmon, washed down with tea. With their low salaries they could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables, so many of the men suffered from scurvy (a painful disease caused by a diet without vitamin C). ► ► The camps were crowded. Diet and living conditions were poor. Many got sick. ► ► In the winter it was very cold and the open fires were the only way of keeping warm. ► ► Whenever the workers put down more tracks, the camps had to be moved further down the line. When it was time to move camp, the Chinese workers would take down their tents, pack their belongings and move everything to the next camp, often hiking over 40 kilometres. Introduction | History | Daily Life | Culture | References IntroductionDaily LifeCultureReferences A Chinese work gang for the Great Northern Railway, circa 1909 A Chinese work gang for the Great Northern Railway, circa 1909

8 Finding Work The Chinese railway workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. They did their own cooking over open outdoor fires. They mainly ate a diet of rice and dried salmon, washed down with tea. With their low salaries they could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables, so many of the men suffered from scurvy (a painful disease caused by a diet without vitamin C). Sour ce A Chin ese work gang for the Grea t Nort hern Rail way, circa 1909 The camps were crowded. Diet and living conditions were poor. Many got sick. In the winter it was very cold and the open fires were the only way of keeping warm. Whenever the workers put down more tracks, the camps had to be moved further down the line. When it was time to move camp, the Chinese workers would take down their tents, pack their belongings and move everything to the next camp, often hiking over 40 kilometres. The Chinese railway workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. They did their own cooking over open outdoor fires. They mainly ate a diet of rice and dried salmon, washed down with tea. With their low salaries they could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables, so many of the men suffered from scurvy (a painful disease caused by a diet without vitamin C). Sour ce A Chin ese work gang for the Grea t Nort hern Rail way, circa 1909 The camps were crowded. Diet and living conditions were poor. Many got sick. In the winter it was very cold and the open fires were the only way of keeping warm. Whenever the workers put down more tracks, the camps had to be moved further down the line. When it was time to move camp, the Chinese workers would take down their tents, pack their belongings and move everything to the next camp, often hiking over 40 kilometres. When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, the railway workers needed to find new jobs. Several thousand Chinese workers returned to China after the railway was completed. Many more could not afford the cost of the ticket. Many stayed in British Columbia, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. Some settled in the small towns along the railway line. Some Chinese people became gardeners, grocers, cooks or servants in wealthy White households. Moving east, the Chinese mostly settled in towns and cities, opening laundries and restaurants or cafés. These businesses didn't need much money, the knowledge of English or special training. Some workers found mining jobs in what is now Alberta, others worked as cooks on farms and cattle ranches. These jobs were seasonal and so they had to return to cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer for the winter. Sour ce Sou rce Employ ee of the Innis fail Laun dry, Innis fail, Alber ta, 1904 A Chi nes e ma n usin g trad ition al pole bas kets to carr y his veg eta bles fro m doo r to doo r  When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, the railway workers needed to find new jobs. Several thousand Chinese workers returned to China after the railway was completed.  Many more could not afford the cost of the ticket. Many stayed in British Columbia, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. Some settled in the small towns along the railway line.  Some Chinese people became gardeners, grocers, cooks or servants in wealthy White households. Moving east, the Chinese mostly settled in towns and cities, opening laundries and restaurants or cafés.

9 Discrimination ► ► Many Canadians discriminated against the Chinese. The Chinese looked different, spoke a different language, and brought their own ways of life with them from China. Many Canadians had never met a Chinese person and formed false opinions out of fear.

10 Discrimination Some Canadians thought that the Chinese would take jobs away from them. Others had wrong or exaggerated ideas about the way the Chinese lived. They were accused of being dirty and disease carriers because of their crowded living conditions. Chinese workers were paid less than white workers because many people believed that the Chinese needed less to live on. They thought that the Chinese were content to live with less and would settle for food that lacked variety and quality. Because most early Chinese immigrants were men, people assumed they had no families to support. Many Chinese were called names and were victims of physical assault. Chinese could not even be buried in public cemeteries with non-Chinese. Electoral platform discriminating against Chinese and Japanese people, Montréal, 1921

11 Head Taxes and the Exclusion Act ► ► While Europeans were being offered free land to come to Canada, in 1885, the Canadian government created a "head tax" to limit the number of Chinese coming to the country. This meant that any Chinese person wanting to come to Canada had to pay $50.00 to the government. This made it harder for Chinese workers to come to Canada and for those already here to bring their wives and children over from China. ► ► It was a lonely life for the men living for many years away from their wives and families. Many never saw their families again. Because of the way they were treated, some men chose not to bring their families to Canada. They did not want them to suffer the same treatment that they had experienced.

12 Head Tax ► In 1900, people felt that there were still too many Chinese people coming to Canada, and the head tax was increased to $ It went up to $ in The Chinese were the only group of people from another country that had to pay a tax in order to enter the country. In 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act was passed, also known as the Exclusion Act. For the next 24 years, anyone Chinese was not allowed to come to Canada. It even stopped families in China from coming to live with those family members already in Canada.

13 Sources ► ent/kids/ e.html ent/kids/ e.html ent/kids/ e.html ► neers/pioneers9_e.html neers/pioneers9_e.html neers/pioneers9_e.html ►


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