Chinese in Canada in the 19th century

  In 1858, when news of the discovery of gold mines along the Fullersey and Thompson Rivers spread to California, Chinese gold prospectors began to flood into Canada, and they were scattered in the Fraser Valley and the Cariboo Mountains. When the gold mines were gradually depleted, the construction of a railway that ran through the mainland became the main source of livelihood for the Chinese workers.
  The service industry surrounding these Chinese workers—their food, medicine, accommodation, and remittance—has just begun. Chinatown thus rose.
  Vancouver’s Chinatown was due to a fire in 1886. The city government leased a piece of woodland on the north bank of Westminster Avenue and False Creek to overseas Chinese. The rent was exempt for ten years, but they had to cultivate it.
  Chinatown also symbolizes the vitality and plight of the Chinese people. Since their arrival, they have faced all kinds of hostility. Racist ideas pervaded the 19th century, and the rise of social Darwinism made all this worse.
  ”The ethos on the Pacific coast is to do everything possible to bully and torture the Chinese… Treat them like pigs and dogs, threaten them and ridicule them whenever they have the opportunity, punching and kicking them, even their names become swear words. “, a British traveler wrote around the 1880s. He was also surprised by the patience of the Chinese, “They did not show their intention to retaliate, but worked silently and were polite to everyone.”
  This is also a moment of ridicule. Only two centuries ago, China was still regarded as a model of civilization, from Confucianism to Suzhou gardens, and conquered the nobles and literati from Paris to London. Going back three centuries, even the discovery of the entire Americas all originated from the rise and fall of China. Columbus and his followers all believed that the East represented by China means endless wealth and elegant taste.
  Canada is also full of such stories. In 1634, a man named Jean Nicolet set off from Quebec to the Great Lakes region to resolve tribal conflicts there. These tribes traded with Europeans for fur. The Frenchman was ordered overseas, if possible, to sail to the West and head to China. The local indigenous people took him to Lake Michigan, convinced that the other side was China. In order to make a good impression on the Chinese, he specially put on a Chinese brocade embroidered with flowers and birds.
  At this moment, China has become a declining, decayed, and even evil image. Those miners and coolies who are constantly coming in seem to have responded to this. They drag the braids behind their heads, speak incomprehensible languages, and are only with their own people. They also take the vices of their hometown, such as smoking opium and gambling. Bring it here. “In the dark corners of Chinatown, there are professional gamblers, opium smokers, and other unclean people… Chinatown has become the evil of the evil forces that white society hopes to eliminate”, English media often describe this, and these Chinese “is A group of solitary people…Because of the gaps in race, color, language, and thought that can hardly be crossed, they are not liked by white people…”.
  This is naturally a prejudiced description. “I found that all the Chinese workers hired are very hardworking, honest and reliable, and do not cause me trouble,” a railway contractor once said. On the contrary, white workers “do not keep their promises and have no morals.”
  They did not get the corresponding respect for their contributions. Unlike the United States, Canada is a country that has not yet taken shape. In 1867, the states formed a loose alliance, and it did not gain independence and accept the jurisdiction of the British Empire. The long struggle between the British and the French also left a significant division in this alliance. Quebecers insisted on using French. This immigrant country also has a significant racial hierarchy, with whites occupying the upper strata, and blacks, yellow races and native Indians are excluded characters. Although it is not as harsh as the United States, it is deeply influenced by the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act also came from the United States.
  Despite the difficult journey, many of them died on the ship and on the way. Even if they arrived, they did not find a gold mine and obtain wealth as they wished. But as long as some people succeed, it is enough to give comfort to the people in their hometown and arouse wilder hope. The intertwined clan structure provides the best network for this kind of migration. They brought one by one and moved the entire family and the entire village to a foreign land.
  Several counties surrounding Guangzhou are the main source of these immigrants. In the survey from 1884 to 1885, of the 5,000 overseas Chinese, three-fifths of them were from Siyi area, and one-third of them were from Xinning (Taishan). The rest are in the Sanyi area, as well as a small number of Xiangshan people and Hakka people. Compared with the identities of Chinese and Cantonese, Sanyi, Siyi, or the counties of Nanhai and Xinhui, or the surnames of Li and Wang, are the sources of identity that they value more. Kang Youwei’s warm welcome was not only because of his political reputation and literary talent, but also because he came from Nanhai County and Sanyi. “Country folks”, Kang Youwei’s appellation for them has a special sense of intimacy.
  This kind of intimacy is exactly what these Chinese people desire most. They came from the hot and humid Lingnan to the cold and vast country of Canada. Not only were the weather and diet unbearable, but they also had to face a hostile society. Chinatown is a place of protection and rest. After a day’s work, instead of returning to the crowded work shed, it is better to gather in Chinatown to eat, talk hometown, and play cards. Loneliness plagues everyone. This is almost a purely male world, with less than 6 percent of the population of women and children. Opium houses, casinos, and brothels are indispensable, and women’s physical bodies can temporarily save them from their depressing lives. Gambling, perhaps a resistance to one’s own destiny, a kind of accident and hope, suddenly rescues you from embarrassment.
  As the population increased, the community matured, and they moved the entire life of their hometown here. They built guild halls and built temples in the guild halls. Carpenters carved fine altars, altars, screens, and statues, hoping to protect them.
  It has its own atmosphere and rhythm, and the Spring Festival is the most joyous moment. The store is closed, cleaned, and decorated with peach blossoms, daffodils and red paper flowers, and couplets are also pasted at the door. Set off firecrackers, put on new clothes, visit each other, entertain guests with liquor, nuts, cakes, and fruits, from New Year’s Eve to Lantern Festival. Occasionally, white people are also invited. They also refused to die in a foreign land. In 1891, the Chinese Guild Hall in Victoria collected more than 300 unknown corpses, waiting to be transported back to China for burial.