Acknowledging Past Wrongs

Acknowledging Past Wrongs

Primary Documents

Primary Source Documents from the Royal BC Museum and Archives

The following is a collection of primary source documents from the Royal BC Museum and Archives. These Provincial and Federal Acts, letters, telegrams and newspaper articles shed light on different ways that Chinese Canadians were discriminated against in BC’s past.

In this letter, Chinese labourer Koo Loo writes to Frederick Seymour, the governor of the colony of British Columbia at New Westminster (the capital of the colony at the time) to ask for help in collecting unpaid wages for both himself and his co-workers.

This provincial act, passed in 1884, made it illegal for any Chinese person to own Crown Lands in BC.

This provincial act was never implemented, but proposed that the immigration of Chinese people to BC should become illegal.

This provincial act proposed a $10 head tax for all Chinese migrants.

This amendment states that in no way would any changes to this particular act give Chinese and First Nations people in BC the right to vote.

This federal act imposes a head tax of $50 for all Chinese migrants coming to Canada. It also lays out restrictions on the number of Chinese migrants allowed on every ship coming to the country, and guidelines that deny any Chinese migrant who is unhealthy, known to be a prostitute, or judged to be a ‘huckster’.

These are a series of letters and telegrams that report a situation where 10 Chinese workers in Penticton were forcibly deported from the town during the night, by 30 white citizens.

In February 1910, Long Poyyou received permission to purchase Crown Land as a ‘naturalized Chinaman’. Six months later he received a notice that a mistake had been made and despite having built a home and making improvements to the property, the Land Act forbade any person of Chinese descent to own Crown Land. Furthermore, he was not eligible to be compensated for the money that he spent building his home.

In the 1920s, residents of Victoria worried that the “mingling of Chinese with white boys and girls in the public schools of Victoria constitutes a growing menace…”.

To achieve segregation, the school board used unsupported arguments that Chinese students were unclean, or that they were delaying the progress of classes as a whole. Over 200 Chinese elementary students were moved to separate buildings. The segregation ended in September 1923 thanks to editorials, like this one, and public outcry by members of the Chinese community.

This is a collection of articles and letters to the editor found in the Daily Colonist, a Victoria newspaper, from the same time as the start of student segregation in 1922. 

On May 15, 2014, the BC Legislature passed the apology motion for historical wrongs against British Columbia’s Chinese Canadian community.  This formal apology assisted in providing closure on this dark period of British Columbia’s history.

Where to Begin Your Own Research

The BC Archives contains government and private records that are of enduring value to the province of British Columbia. New information is continually being added, including digital copies of records, providing ever-growing access to the archival materials.

Watch these helpful instructional videos on how to search the BC Archives:

How-to: BC Archives Genealogy Search Learn how to find records on births, deaths, marriages or baptisms in BC.

How-to: BC Archives Collections Search Learn how to find any documents aside from those used in the genealogy search, including maps, photographs, textual records, moving images or audio recordings.

Outside Links

These links will take you away from the Learning Portal. Come back soon!

This article, written by a historian, describes the conditions at the Federal Immigration Detention Hospital in Victoria and the economic and political factors at play before and during its operation.

Open School BC has created a new teacher and student resource: ‘Bamboo Shoots: Chinese Canadian Legacies in BC’. The resource includes an extensive collection of in-class activities using primary source material and research. Lessons focus on important Chinese Canadian milestones and examine historical wrongs committed against the community through historical thinking concepts.

This interactive map details 77 places around BC that were nominated because they have an important connection with the heritage of BC’s Chinese Canadian community. The places have information about location, description and history, images, heritage values and links to more information.

Is your community represented in the Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project (CCAP)? Explore this searchable database that holds over 6000 Chinese Canadian artifacts from 16 local and regional museums across British Columbia. 

This graphic timeline provides an overview of Chinese Canadian history from 1788 to the present.

This is a collection of digitized holdings from the Chung Collection from the UBC Library and the City of Vancouver Archives that sheds light on Chinese experiences in BC between 1850 and 1950.

This interactive site allows you to explore the stories of Chinese Canadians through primary source documents, engaging activities and teacher/student resources.

This resource provides information about Chinese Canadians in BC. In addition to providing background information on Chinese Canadian history, this genealogy guide provides a list of available records and tips for conducting research into Chinese Canadian family histories.