Experience by Chinese immigrants in Canada







Chinese immigration to Canada is dated back in the late 1780s when the first 120 Chinese contractors moved to Vancouver Island. From there Chinese moved to Canada first as gold rush mining contractors. The settlement of Chinese in Canada was not received warmly by the natives and as a result, conflict emerged between the immigrant Chinese and the natives, Spanish. This paper will examine the experiences Chinese immigrants faced when settling in Canada by focusing on the challenges and success they experienced.

Most of Chinese immigrants moved to Vancouver Island with the hope of improving their living conditions. The island was known for its rich in minerals such as gold rush. However, when the contract was over they were offered another contract of building the railway which was to link the B.C with the eastern part of Canada also known as the pacific Canada Railway. During the construction of the railway, Chinese immigrants began to increase and most of the Chinese started to move to Canada (Guo, 2009). Some of them came as contractors and went back to their countries, while some came to Canada and settled there. Those who came to find new settlement formed a town called Chinatown along the railway lines where the Chinese immigrants stayed. Initially, the government supported the Chinese contractors because they were helping in building the railway line (Guo, 2009). By the time the contract was over, there were many Chinese immigrants in Canada. As a way to reduce the settlement of the immigrants the government passed an immigration act which placed a tax of $50 on every Chinese. This did not discourage them either, there were still many people moving in to Canada (Guo, 2009). Another act was passed in the early 1900 which increased the levy to $100 on every Chinese individual. The period of early 1900 was majorly accompanied with the discrimination of Chinese people (Creese & Peterson, 1996). Most of people who moved to Canada found it very difficult to find a place to lay their heads. The government wanted to force Chinese people out of Canada and therefore, it applied every means possible to discourage them from coming in Canada. Some of the challenges the immigrants experienced in Canada include; first, the high and expensive cost of living. The government wanted to make it more difficult for the immigrants to discourage them from coming in Canada. The government passed the Chinese immigration act of 1903 which increased the head tax fee to $100, and the land fee was further increased to $ 500. In addition, the government further denied the Chinese immigrants employment opportunities in the municipal offices and the industries. The immigrants were subjected to extreme frustration. The government also passed another act which gave specific people the privilege to enter Canada. For instance, the law only allowed the merchants, diplomats and students to come to Canada under special circumstances. From 1923, the Chinese immigrants who moved to settle in Canada faced problems trying to cope with the expensive living condition (Guo, 2009). Most of the immigrants stayed in Canada in hiding because they could not pay the expensive house tax. Another problem the immigrants experienced was the lifestyle of Canada which they could not manage. As a result, they established their own area, Chinatown where they could interact with their fellow Chinese and share some of the cultural values. This period of time was majorly accompanied with the racial discrimination from every side. The Chinese immigrants were discriminated and isolated from the rest of the society in Canada.

Despite the challenges the immigrants faced in Canada, they also enjoyed some privileges. Some of the successes which the Chinese immigrants accomplished include; establishing individual business. After the government passed the legislation that the Chinese immigrants were not to be offered jobs in the industries or any other profession, the Chinese started to establish their personal business which not only served the Chinese alone but the rest of the country (Guo & DeVoretz, 2006). Some Chinese started to open grocery stores and restaurants. The Chinese cooking became famous and most people liked the Chinese foods. The restaurants grew into being huge hotel and restaurant industries. The Chinese emerged to be successful in market gardening which gave them a privilege to participate in the development of production industries in British Columbia (Guo & DeVoretz, 2006). As a result of their contribution to the development of production industries, the government offered them Canadian citizenship which gave them the privileges to enjoy most of the privileges enjoyed by the Canadians. As a way of reducing the discrimination they received from the natives, the Chinese immigrants started movements which helped them to fight the problem. For instance, the Anti-Asian Riots which emerged in 1907 in Vancouver was to end the discrimination the immigrants faced from the natives. Another challenge the immigrants faced while immigrating to Canada was separation from their loved ones. Most of the Chinese immigrants underwent through hardships between 1923 and 1947 where no Chinese was allowed to step his/her foot in Canada (Guo & DeVoretz, 2006). This period was known as the exclusion period. Most of the families were separated since no more Chinese were allowed to come to Canada. Therefore, those who had their families and wished to visit them in Canada could not do so, hence the separation.

Since the government offered few and specific individual to enjoy the privilege of settling in Canada such as the merchants and diplomats, the few joined up together and formed organizations which helped the immigrants to fight for their rights (Guo & DeVoretz, 2006). The merchants formed the Chinese consolidated Benevolent Association which ensured that the rights of the minority groups such as Chinese were protected and respected equally as the natives. The association was mandatory for all the Chinese to join. The association helped the immigrants in various ways. For instance, the association ensured that those who died in Canada were transported back to their native homes and buried properly as per their custom. Despite the success and privileges the Chinese immigrants enjoyed towards the end of 1947, they had gone through so much pain during the period of exclusion.

In conclusion, this paper has examined the challenges experienced by the Chinese immigrants in Canada and how they overcame the challenges. Discrimination is a major hindering factor which should be eradicated at all cost. People are all the same and everyone deserves a better and fair treatment just like any other person. No culture or race is superior to the other and therefore, we should all appreciate one another.




Creese, G., & Peterson, L. (1996). Making the news, racializing Chinese Canadians. Studies in Political Economy51.

Guo, S. (2009). Difference, deficiency, and devaulation: Tracing the roots of non-recognition of foreign credentials for immigrant professionals in Canada.Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education22(1), 37-52.

Guo, S., & DeVoretz, D. J. (2006). The changing face of Chinese immigrants in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration/Revue de l’integration et de la migration internationale7(3), 275-300.

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