In the late 1800’s, thousands of Chinese laborers were brought to Canada to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway. But almost immediately passed down the Head Tax with the Chinese Exclusion Act not long after the finishing of CPR. With the idea of the Chinese Immigrants as job stealers willing to work more for less pay placed many Canadians during that time really hostile to them. With the object of hostility, discrimination and suspicion, the Chinese in Canada had no choice but to develop their own close-knit communities. Chinatowns were created and became a thriving economic and social centre for families and businesses. Outside of Chinatown, many Chinese found work (though at low wages) in BC sawmills and canneries, sometimes as part of work gangs under a Chinese labour contractor who had paid their cost to come to Canada.
The earliest Chinese professionals tended to serve primarily the Chinese community; in British Columbia, Chinese were barred for many years from professions such as law, accounting and pharmacy. In 1878, The Workingmen’s Protective Association formed in our local city Victoria. They were one of the first civil rights organization who strived for poor working conditions and economic restrictions. Chinese Canadians also united to lobby against both the head tax and the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act.
Unfortunately the they failed to get their rights in Ottawa at the time, but I (personally) saw a stone carving at the Victoria Chinatown beside the gate, where in 2006, the Chinese Canadian community at last won a long-overdue apology and compensation from the federal government for the head tax. Today, many Chinese Canadians are involved in politics at various levels. In addition to being barred from voting, they were not allowed to work for the government and most provincial companies.They often worked with other Chinese immigrants mostly in a labouring job. Virtually every town in Canada had a Chinese restaurant or hand laundry by the 1940s.