History of wrongs towards B.C.'s Chinese Canadians

Last updated on September 1, 2020

There is a long history of Chinese in British Columbia that began when Chinese workers first arrived in Nuu-chah-nulth territory in 1788 to establish fur trade settlements. Throughout much of this history, there have been many achievements, although Chinese pioneers were subjected to systematic, legislated discrimination imposed by past governments that denied them basic human rights. 

First Arrivals

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In 1788, Chinese workers landed in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. They were part of Captain John Meares’ expedition to build the first year-round, non-indigenous settlement. Read More

Gold Mountain

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When gold was discovered in the lower Fraser Valley in 1857, and in the years that followed, tens of thousands of miners from around the world joined the gold rush. Along with these miners came a large group of Chinese from San Francisco who arrived in Victoria by boat in June 1858. Read More

Anti-Chinese Politics

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When British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871, the creation of the first provincial legislature coincided with the growth of anti-Chinese political movements in places such as California and the Australian colonies. Read More

Building the Railway

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Before 1885, when the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) made movement across the country cheap and convenient, British Columbia was difficult to access from other parts of Canada. It was easier, cheaper and faster to get to British Columbia from Hong Kong than from Halifax. Read More


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Chinese Canadians were segregated socially, economically and politically. For example, consultation forum participants described how Chinese Canadians were not permitted to swim in Victoria’s Crystal Pool. Read More

Soldiers & Veterans

The outbreak of World War II was a pivotal point in the history of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia. The B.C. government strongly opposed enlisting any Asians in the armed forces, fearing that military veterans would ask for the right to vote afterward. Read More

A New Era

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The 1967 immigration reform created the “points system” and removed racial discrimination in immigration policy, opening the door again to Chinese immigration. As a result, new Chinese immigration rose steadily in the 1970s and 1980s. Read More