Further research and educational resources

Web links

LAC websites

External websites

Suggested readings

Anderson, Kay. Vancouver's Chinatown: Racial Discourse in Canada, 1875-1980. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1991. ISBN 0773508449
AMICUS 10431491

A Century of the Chinese in Calgary. Calgary: United Calgary Chinese Association, 1993.
AMICUS 22159278

Chan, Anthony B. Gold Mountain: The Chinese in the New World. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1983. ISBN 0919573002
AMICUS 3401858

Chiang, Hung-Min (Jiang Hong Min). Chinese Islanders: Making a Home in the New World. Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Island Studies Press, 2006. ISBN 0919013465
AMICUS 32443181

Con, Harry et al. De la Chine au Canada: Histoire des communautés chinoises au Canada. Edgar Wickberg, ed. Ottawa: Multiculturalisme Canada, 1984. ISBN 0660912619
AMICUS 4537279

Con, Harry et al. From China to Canada: A History of the Chinese Communities in Canada. Edgar Wickberg, ed. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982. ISBN 0771022417
AMICUS 3359187

Dawson, J. Brian. Moon Cakes in Gold Mountain: From China to the Canadian Plains. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1991. ISBN 155059026X
AMICUS 10730514

Dyzenhaus, David and Mayo Moran, eds. Calling Power to Account: Law, Reparations and the Chinese Canadian Head Tax Case. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. ISBN 0802038085
AMICUS 30902619

Goutor, David. Guarding the Gates: The Canadian Labour Movement and Immigration, 1872-1934. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007. ISBN 9780774813648
AMICUS 33270577

Helly, Denise. Les Chinois à Montréal: 1877-1951. Québec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 1987. ISBN 2892240840
AMICUS 8436389

Hoe, Ban Seng. Au-delà de la montagne d'or: la culture traditionnelle des sino-canadiens. Hull, Québec: Musée canadien des civilisations, 1989. ISBN 0660902915
AMICUS 8837332

Hoe, Ban Seng. Beyond the Golden Mountain: Chinese Cultural Traditions in Canada. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1989. ISBN 0660107902
AMICUS 8837259

Hoe, Ban Seng. Enduring Hardship: The Chinese Laundry in Canada. Gatineau, Québec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2003. ISBN 0660190788
AMICUS 28375676

Huang, Evelyn. Chinese Canadians: Voices from a Community. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1992. ISBN 1550540343
AMICUS 11242419

Lai, David Chuenyan. Chinatowns: Towns within Cities in Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1988. ISBN 0774803096
AMICUS 8323816

Lai, David Chuenyan. The Forbidden City within Victoria. Victoria, B.C.: Orca Book Publishers, 1991. ISBN 092050163X
AMICUS 10673335

Lee, Wai-man (Li Huai-min p'ien hsüan), ed. Portraits of a Challenge: An Illustrated History of the Chinese Canadians (Chi'en yen wen ho ch'uang hsin lu : chia na ta hua jen li shih t'u p'ien chi). Toronto: Council of Chinese Canadian in Ontario (An sheng chia na ta hua jen lien huich'u pan), 1984. ISBN 0969210604
AMICUS 7937444

Li, Julia Ningyu (Li Ning Yü p'ien chu), ed. Canadian Steel, Chinese Grit: A Tribute to the Chinese who Worked on Canada's Railroads More than a Century Ago (Fêng ku Chung-hua hun : Chi nien pai nien chan). Toronto: Paxlink Communications Inc., 2000. ISBN 0968731902
AMICUS 23832251

Li, Peter S. The Chinese in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0195412710
AMICUS 17425643

McCardle, Bennett. The Records of Chinese Immigration at the National Archives of Canada, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1987, pp. 163-171.

Morton, James. In the Sea of Sterile Mountains: The Chinese in British Columbia. Vancouver: J.J. Douglas, 1974. ISBN 0888940521
AMICUS 75758

Roy, Patricia. The Oriental Question: Consolidating a White Man's Province, 1914-41. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2003. ISBN 0774810106
AMICUS 28375606

Roy, Patricia. The Triumph of Citizenship: The Japanese and Chinese in Canada, 1941-67. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007. ISBN 9780774813808
AMICUS 33090106

Roy, Patricia. A White Man's Province: British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants, 1858-1914. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1989. ISBN 0774803304
AMICUS 12869404

Scheinberg, Ellen. Evidence of 'Past Injustices': Records Relating to the Chinese Head Tax, The Archivist, Vol. 20, No. 2, 1994, pp 26-30.

Seto, William. The Chinese Experience in New Brunswick: A Historical Perspective. Fredericton: Chinese Cultural Association of New Brunswick, 1985.
AMICUS 6786252

Soo, Wen Lee. Crossings: A Portrait of the Chinese Community of Moose Jaw. Heather Smith, ed. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan: Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, 2005. ISBN 0968400876
AMICUS 32039103

Sugiman, Momoye. Chin kuo (Jin guo): Voices of Chinese Canadian Women. Toronto: Women's Press, 1992. ISBN 0889611475
AMICUS 11995722

Tan, Jin-Yan and Patricia E. Roy. The Chinese in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1985. ISBN 0887981100
Available online: [PDF 2,501 KB]
AMICUS 6117851

Tan, Jin-Yan et Patricia E. Roy. Les Chinois au Canada. Ottawa: Société historique du Canada, 1985. ISBN 0887981100
Available online: [PDF 2,501 KB]
AMICUS 6692905

To Commemorate Victoria's Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, 1884-1959. Victoria, B.C.: Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assoc., 196-?
AMICUS 25273539

Wang, Jiwu. "His Dominion" and the "Yellow Peril": Protestant Missions to the Chinese Immigrants in Canada, 1859-1967. Waterloo, Ont.: Published for the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion, 2006. ISBN 0889204853
AMICUS 32367275

Ward, W. Peter. White Canada Forever: Popular Attitudes and Public Policy toward Orientals in British Columbia. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990. ISBN 0773508244
AMICUS 9771865

Wright, Richard. In a Strange Land: A Pictorial Record of the Chinese in Canada, 1788-1923. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1988. ISBN 0888332696
AMICUS 7983278

Yee, Paul. Chinatown: An Illustrated History of the Chinese Communities of Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Toronto: J. Lorimer, 2005. ISBN 1550288423
AMICUS 31190388

Yee, Paul. Saltwater City: An Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2006. ISBN 155365174X
AMICUS 32266290

Selected early federal government reports and legislation

Canada. Chinese Immigration Act and Regulations. Ottawa: Dept. of Immigration and Colonization, 1920.
AMICUS 17326511

Canada. Chinese Immigration Act and Regulations. Ottawa: Dept. of Immigration and Colonization, 1922.
AMICUS 17233694

Canada. Chinese Immigration Act and Regulations, 1923, issued by the Minister of Immigration and Colonization. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1923.
AMICUS 4121921

Canada. Chinese Immigration Act: As Amended to Date with Regulations Authorized by Orders in Council Based Thereon. Ottawa: Dept. of Trade and Commerce, 1910.
AMICUS 17364037

Canada. Commission royale sur l'immigration chinoise. Rapport sur l'immigration chinoise: Rapport et témoignages. Ottawa: Imprimé par ordre de la Commission, 1885. ISBN 0665936508
AMICUS 14003412

Canada. Commission to Investigate Alleged Chinese Frauds and Opium Smuggling on the Pacific Coast: Report of Mr. Justice Murphy, Royal Commissioner Appointed to Investigate Alleged Chinese Frauds and Opium Smuggling on the Pacific Coast, 1910-11. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1913.
AMICUS 12259328

Canada. Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration: Report and Evidence. Toronto: Micromedia Ltd., n.d. ISBN 0665145632
AMICUS 10781423

Canada. Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Methods by which Oriental Labourers have been induced to come to Canada. Report of the Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Methods by which Oriental Labourers have been induced to Come to Canada. W.L. Mackenzie King, c.m.g., Commissioner. Ottawa, Government Printing Bureau, 1908.
AMICUS 2260182

Canada. Royal Commission Appointed to Investigate Methods by which Oriental Labourers have been Induced to come to Canada: Report of W.L. Mackenzie King, Commissioner Appointed to Enquire into the Methods by which Oriental Labourers have been induced to come to Canada. Ottawa: The Commission, 1908.
AMICUS 12261938

Canada. Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese Immigration: Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese Immigration. Ottawa: S.E. Dawson, 1902.
AMICUS 12772289

Canada. Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration: Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration. New York: Arno Press, 1978. ISBN 040511267X
AMICUS 467373

Canada. Royal Commission to Investigate Losses by the Chinese Population of Vancouver, British Columbia, on the Occasion of the Riots in That City in September, 1907: Report by W.L. Mackenzie King...Commissioner Appointed to Investigate into the Losses Sustained by the Chinese Population of Vancouver, B.C. on the Occasion of the Riots in That City in September, 1907. Ottawa: S.E. Dawson, 1908.
AMICUS 12779378

Selection of theses in Library and Archives Canada's collection

Chen, Ying-ying. In the colonies of Tang: Historical Archaeology of Chinese Communities in the North Cariboo District, British Columbia (1860s-1940s). Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 2004. ISBN 0612816362
AMICUS 29965091

Chu, Sandra Ka Hon. Reparation as Narrative Resistance: Displacing Orientalism and Recoding Harm for Chinese Women of the Exclusion Era. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada, 2006. ISBN 9780494117682
AMICUS 33060931

Cui, Xiang. The Occupational Changes of Chinese Immigrants in Canada with Specific Reference to Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1885-1923. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 2004. ISBN 0612865703
AMICUS 30719677

Harel, Nathalie. La peur de l'étranger: les Chinois à Montréal de 1885 à 1947. Montréal: Service des archives, Université de Montréal, Section Microfilm, 1996.
AMICUS 15165201

Huang, Belinda. Gender, Race, and Power: The Chinese in Canada, 1920-1950. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 2000. ISBN 0612438856
Available online: [PDF 8,578 KB]
AMICUS 24735049

Lim, Andrea Rae. Kingston's Chinese: The Formation of an Enclave, 1891-1980. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada, 2005. ISBN 0494010487
AMICUS 32227676

Mah, Hilda. A History of the Education of Chinese Canadians in Alberta, 1885-1947. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1988. ISBN 0315410906
AMICUS 8612602

Mar, Lisa Rose. From Diaspora to North American Civil Rights: Chinese Canadian Ideas, Identities and Brokers in Vancouver, British Columbia, 1924 to 1960. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 2003. ISBN 0612746690
AMICUS 28577667

Moy, Frank Kunyin. The Political Economy of Chinese Labour in Canada, 1858-1923. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1995. ISBN 0315966769
AMICUS 15029263

Ng, Chee Chiu Clement. The Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver: 1885-1923, A response to Local Conditions. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1987. ISBN 0315338156
AMICUS 7738984

Poy, Vivienne. Calling Canada Home: Canadian Law and Immigrant Chinese Women from South China and Hong Kong, 1860-1990. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 2004. ISBN 0612847446
AMICUS 30487303

Rowe, Allan. The Surveillance of the Chinese in Canada during the Great War. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 2002. ISBN 0612614905
Available online: [PDF 5,086 KB]
AMICUS 27303642

Stanley, Timothy John. Defining the Chinese Other: White Supremacy, Schooling and Social Structure in British Columbia before 1923. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1992. ISBN 0315726482
AMICUS 12770737

Yee, Paul. Chinese Business in Vancouver, 1886-1914. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1986. ISBN 0315279818
AMICUS 6812207

Zhang, Yunqiu. Canada's Chinese Immigration Act of 1885. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1991. ISBN 0315594659
AMICUS 12215597

Educational resources

Ages: 13-18 (Junior, Intermediate, Senior)

This educational resource includes two lesson plans that use different ways of examining history.

Lesson 1: Causes and consequence "Why do things happen in history?"

Activity 1.1: Understanding causes and consequences

1. Begin with a story to build on students' own experiences of causes and consequences.

For example:

  • The teacher could ask students who or what had an influence on their report card grades. Consider all the factors or conditions, as well as all the people that might have helped or hurt their grades. Of course, the student is chiefly responsible for their grades, but probe them for a wider list: family, friends, teachers, the amount of time spent studying and reviewing, the degree of participation in class, the effort they expended in projects, etc.
  • Expand the questioning so that students must consider social forces or conditions. For example, if students were in a different country or a different historical period, their parents may have had to insist that they work instead of attend school. Thus, the economy and family wealth are factors. The Ministry of Education could change its policy and introduce new exams or, more radically, the federal government could declare war and recruit the boys into the army. Politics could then also be a factor. And so on.
  • Sometimes small actions or just plain luck can have significant consequences. For example, getting the time wrong and arriving late for a final exam could result in failing the course.

2. Group some of the causes discussed into three categories: individuals, groups and social conditions/forces.

3. Explain that when looking for the causes of historical events, historians consider the same kinds of factors. Human beings "make" history, just as the students "make" their report card grades. However, we act under certain conditions that influence us. This is the same in history. People influence events, but they in turn are constantly influenced by social forces, by other groups, by geography, and by history.

4. Explain that the students will be studying some significant events in the history of Chinese Canadians and looking at their various causes and consequences, much as the class looked at the causes and consequences of their school marks.

Activity 1.2: Preliminary research for concept maps

1. A concept map is a student-generated diagram that visually demonstrates links between various ideas. It may also be called a "mind map." Often, the central ideas are written in the middle of the page, and surrounding words for concepts or events are written around the central ideas. Lines are drawn to show relationships between the central ideas and the surrounding ones.

2. Students will be gaining an understanding of the causes and consequences of Chinese immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries, exclusion from 1923 to1947, citizenship and the right to vote in 1947 and the slow achievement of equality over the next few decades. As a class, they will create a concept map exploring the reasons for Chinese Immigration to Canada. Later in groups, they will create their own concept map to demonstrate their understanding of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923.

3. Before creating the concept maps, conduct a class discussion and introduce the following specific questions:

  • Why did the Chinese immigrate to Canada?
  • What is the Chinese Immigration Act, and why is it important?
  • Why did Canada at one point encourage the Chinese to immigrate and then refuse them in 1923?
  • What were the consequences of this exclusion?
  • What changed in Canada for the Chinese community in 1947?

4. Students may refer to The Early Chinese Canadians, 1858 to 1947 and the additional websites listed under Web links to address the questions listed in #3. Students may work in groups or individually.

Note: The Early Chinese Canadians website clearly explains a number of causes for Chinese immigration, called push and pull factors. Students will be able to find the concepts and vocabulary of long-term causes such as scarce farmland in China and more short-term causes such as the discovery of gold.

5. Give your students at least one class to research answers to the questions listed in #3. Students should aim to have approximately one paragraph of information per question.

6. At the end of their research, regroup as a class and compare answers. You may wish to record the main points in response to each of the questions in order to guide your students' concept map creation.

Activity 1.3: Creating concept maps

1. On an overhead projector, blackboard or poster paper, place the word "Immigration" in the centre or at the top of the page. Ask your students to identify the causes for Chinese immigration and record these around the central topic word of "immigration."

2. Draw connecting lines from identified causes (for example, "law and order") to "Immigration." Along the lines, write connecting verbs such as "caused", "led to", "was a factor in", "influenced", "resulted in", etc.

3. Now that students have worked through an example together as a class, explain that they will do a similar chart, in small groups, but with a different question: Why did the government stop Chinese immigration in 1923?

4. Form students into pairs or small groups of four and distribute Handout 1.1, PDF 99 KB a large sheet of paper on which to draw their concept map, and a different coloured felt pen for each student. Students should sign their names to the concept map with their different colours. This makes it easier to monitor individual contributions.

5. Evaluate your students' work using Handout 1.2. PDF 43 KB


1. Consider another significant topic in the history of Chinese Canadians and ask another question about cause and consequence. For example:

  • What were the reasons for Canada changing its policy in 1947 and granting citizenship to Chinese Canadians?

2. Ask students to consider the most important causes for either event listed below and rank them in order.

  • Why did the government stop Chinese immigration in 1923?
  • What were the reasons for Canada changing its policy in 1947 and granting citizenship to Chinese Canadians?

3. Ask students a "what if" question about what might have happened if one of the causes was altered or absent. For example:

  • What if Canada had not passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923? How would life have been different for Chinese Canadians?
  • What would have happened if there had been no Second World War? Would Chinese Canadians have gained their rights in 1947?

Lesson 2--Inference from evidence: What was life like for early Chinese Canadians?

Activity 2.1: Understanding inference

This activity is based on ideas from Claire Riley's, "Evidential Understanding, Period Knowledge and the Development of Literacy," Thinking History, 97, pp. 6-12.

Students will need access to the website Chinese Immigrant Experience for the following lesson, or have multiple printed copies of various photographs from the site.

1. If your students have not explored the use of evidence and the concept of inference before, you may wish to begin with an introductory activity. Some suggestions:

  • Ask students to imagine what would happen if they had amnesia. How would they know what their life was like as a child?
  • Bring in personal photographs or artifacts, puzzling ones if possible, and ask students to infer what they mean and what they tell about you.
  • Ask for a student to volunteer an artifact in their possession and ask for inferences in a similar manner.

2. From student answers, identify some of the challenges of understanding what took place in the past. We cannot directly access the past and therefore must do so by interpreting evidence. This involves certain degrees of uncertainty. We may know for certain that a student went to school in the past but we are less certain about how he or she felt about it.

Activity 2.2: Photo analysis

1. Ask your students the question: What was life like for early Chinese Canadians? Explain that they will be doing some historical research to create a museum-like exhibit that answers this question. The research will be based on traces of the past, such as photographs.

2. Model for students an analysis of an evocative photograph from the website. Choose an example from the list below. The photo can be copied from the website and inserted in the centre square of Handout 2.1 PDF 99 KB or a copy of the photograph can be distributed along with Handout 2.2. PDF 43 KB

Photograph 1: See Shu Gong, taken around 1900, location unknown, photographer unknown, Mikan 3829883

Photograph 2: Chinese men on a quay, May 24, 1899, Vancouver, photographer: V.H. Dupont, Mikan 3366111

Photograph 3: Chinese children and young girls, taken between 1880 and 1897, Victoria, photographer unknown, Mikan 3829879

Photograph 4: Men and boys in a park, June 8, 1919, Toronto, photographer: John Boyd, Mikan 3366101

3. Ask your students what the photograph tells us with relative certainty about Chinese-Canadians at that time. Ask them to observe the photo and list the details of what the image tells us about the past. For example:

  • Photograph 3: there were children and businesses with Chinese and English signs in Victoria.
  • Photograph 1: traditional Chinese clothing was worn, the clothes are neat, the photo's subject holds an umbrella, there is softened shading suggesting that the photo was taken in a studio.
  • Photograph 4: gym clothing, Boy Scout uniforms and western clothing is being worn; there is a Union Jack flag in the photo.

Important notice

Photograph 2 was most typical of early Chinese Canadians. As a frontier city in 1900, most Vancouver residents of all ethnic groups were male. Photograph 3 was unusual as there were few Chinese-Canadian children at this time.

4. Next, ask what this photograph suggests to us. What might we reasonably guess or infer from this evidence? For example:

  • Photograph 3: We could infer that there were many Chinese families in Victoria at the time, that there were many Chinese run businesses. Students might also guess as to the type of business suggested by the sign in the right-hand corner. It appears to say "Dealer" and "Opium".
  • Photograph 2: the men wear traditional clothes but European hats, there is forest, electric wires, street light, a Union Jack flag.
  • Photograph 4: may have been intended to show the integration of Chinese Canadians into mainstream Western society. It was taken just four years before all Chinese immigration was stopped.

5. Consider what the photo does not tell us, for example, how many Chinese children there were, what their parents did, if they went to school, etc.

6. Finally, think about what other questions your students need to ask to know what life was like for Chinese-Canadians at this time.

7. Distribute blank copies of Handout 2.1 PDF 85 KB or Handout 2.2 PDF 33 KB and ask students to use the website to select photographs that help answer the question: What was life like at this time for Chinese-Canadians? If there is no Web access in your classroom, you can print copies of photographs ahead of time for students to consult.

8. Remind students to ask themselves the question: What was life like for early Chinese Canadians? Also remind them that their work with be used for a museum-like project.

Activity 2.3: Museum exhibit challenge

1. Ask students to explore a museum exhibit or find images of museum exhibits online to decide what qualities make an exhibit both informative and engaging.

2. Distribute Handout 2.3 PDF 144 KB and review the Museum Exhibit Challenge with your students.

3. If your students are unfamiliar with definitions of primary and secondary sources, refer to ARCHIVED-Toolkit: Defining Primary and Secondary Sources - Learning Centre.

4. Evaluation: Use Handout 2.4 PDF 128 KB as a formative checklist at different times during work on the project to evaluate student progress on their final product.

Variations and extensions

Students could:

  • create replicas of "artifacts" using found objects or arts and crafts materials.
  • justify their selection or creation of "artifacts" by explaining their historical significance.
  • visit or research local Chinese communities and interview or record the stories of local members of the Chinese community.
  • use your school's display case, one of the hallways, or the classroom to display a museum-like exhibit.
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