The Chung Collection

Chung Logo

The Chung Collection

Chinese immigration in British Columbia Government of Canada Mar 29, 1883

Item Metadata


JSON: chungtext-1.0354876.json
JSON-LD: chungtext-1.0354876-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): chungtext-1.0354876-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: chungtext-1.0354876-rdf.json
Turtle: chungtext-1.0354876-turtle.txt
N-Triples: chungtext-1.0354876-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: chungtext-1.0354876-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

OTTAWA,  29TH   MARCH,   1883.
Mr. SHAKESPEARE moved that the House resolve itself
into Committee to consider the following resolution:— the opinion of this Housa it is expedient to enact a law
Similar in principle to tho law now in force in Australia, and entitled
the 'Influx of Chinese Restriction Act, 1881.'
He oaid: This subject which Las been before the House on
several occasions, and to many hon. members it is not new,
and hence I think it will be useless for me to speak at any
length, feeling, at the same time, confident that a question
of this kind will be favorably received by members of this
House. In rising to move this resolution, I do so with a
feeling of great responsibility. I regret very much that the
circumstances and conditions existing in British Columbia,
render it necessary to enact a law making provision for the
protection of our people against the encroachment of
Chinese; but, Sir, the necessity for immediate legislation is
both pressing and imperative. In my humble endeavor to
place a few facts before the House, I ask the favorable indulgence of hon. members. The Legislative
Assembly of British Columbia, recognizing the evil consequences resulting from the eontinued immigration of Chinese,
has repeatedly pressed on the Government of Canada to
take some steps to mitigate the intolerable mischief which
the Chinese have done, and are doing, to the people and
Province of British Columbia. Public meetings have been
held for this purpose, and the people there are as one man
in their desire to prevent any more Chinese entering the
Province. So united are they upon the question that no
candidate, either for this House or the Local House, would
have any chance oi success if he expressed dissent from that
desire. I have no doubt that some hon. members will ask,
" Why are you British Columbians opposed to the Chinese
coming into your midst ? " I might be permitted to state
that we are opposed to those people coming there, in
the first place, because they come there as slaves, and are
treated as such while there. The Chinese are brought
there and sold in droves like sheep, and it is really
amusing, and at the same time appalling to notice
the manoeuvres of the Chinese bosses when these
immigrants arrive at our shores. When a ship reaches the
port of Victoria, for instance, with 500, 600 or 800 Chinese
on board, as was the case during last summer, and when
they are landed on the wharf, they are led away in groups
by the different Chinese firms to whom they are consigned,
and are taken to the Chinese Department, in Chinatown,
there, and the name of every man is enrolled on the books of
those establishments. They are taken care of by the different Chinese firms, and afterwards aro sold to the highest
bidder. That is done in this way : white men, employers
of labor, knowing that a large number of Chinese have-
arrived, proceed to those establishments to ascertain
for what amount they can obtain 50, 100 or 150
Chinese. " How much will you give," asks John. Tho
white man will offer so much. The Chinese firm
say they can get so-and-so; and so the bargaining:
goes on, the man offering the highest price securing the
men. To make the matter worse, Chinese women are-
brought there and sold for base purposes. And this is all
done in British Columbia, under the British flag. Slavery
of the most direful character is being carried on there today, surrounded by a Christian community and Christian:
institutions, and this slavery is demoralizing and contaminating the youth of our land. We are opposed to the
Chinese because we find it impossible to compete with them.
It has been found to be impracticable in all departments
of labor and industry involving manual labor for a white
man to compete with a Chinaman, especially in those light
situations which have hitherto been filled by women and
young people. Why, Sir, we have only to cast our eyes over
to the State of California, and we know, from what we have
heard—and possibly some of us know it from personal observation—that thousands of white men have had to leave that
State, many of them with their families; and they were compelled to leave it because they found it impossible to compete
with the Chinese. What did Mr. Sergeant say in a speech
which he delivered before the Senate of the United States in
" A Chinaman will live on wages that will not support a white man
and his family, being well provided himself on a handful of rice, and a
little refuse pork, and dessicated fish, costing only a few cents a day:
He becomes rich accordingly, to his own standard, on wages which
would beggar a white man's family."
Now, Sir, that statement is perfectly correct. In British
Columbia, to-day, a Chinaman   can live like a prince on
,ry^**fA/ .
J' tcJfe*u&
4   1.7, iff/ twenty-five cents a day ; and a white man cannot live for
less than one dollar a day. A Chinaman has only himself
to support, but a white man has himself and his wife, and
very often children. The grand object and move of tho
Chinaman is always to offer his services at a lower rate
than white men are getting, in order to drive the latter
from the field ; but directly he succeeds in this, he immediately demands a higher rate of wages. We have had a little
experience, Mr. Speaker, in British Columbia, with regard
to competition between white men and the Chinese. I know
of instances myself, where white men were engaged in certain callings, previous to such a large influx of Chinese, who
were doing well, and making comfortable livings; but after
so many Chinese arrived, and went into the same kind of
businesses, these men found it impossible to produce the same
article which the Chinamen were producing, for one-half
of what they were willing to accept. The result
was that these white men were obliged to abandon
their callings, and leave the country. We have also had
experience, Mr. Speaker, as to what these people will do
when they are masters of the situation. Only a few years
ago, a difficulty arose between the Chinese and their
employers; and on the sound of the gong in Chinatown,
every Chinaman who heard that sound, and who was at
work, dropped his tools and ceased labor. Messengers were
sent throughout the city to the hotels, private houses, and
hoot factories, to state that the Chinese were wanted in
Chinatown; and every man employed in these places, as
well as in the barber shops, restaurants, &c, had to go at a
moment's notice, at the risk of his life, if he delayed doing
so. The result, Mr. Speaker, was that our boot factories
were closed, and those who employed these people in their
private houses had to do tho work themselves, for
which I was not sorry. The hotels, &c, were treated
in the same way ; and the Chinese did not
return to theh?—sttaationa — »atil—tho^—matter -was
settled in their favor. This shows what these people
will do, when they are masters of the situation; and to
encourage any number of them, Mr. Speaker, to come into
any community is simply to impoverish and demoralize it.
Only a short time before I left for this city a ship left tho
port of Victoria for China with 500 Chinese on board; and
I ascertained on the best authority that they carried away
with them $590,000. This has been carried on to such an
extent that we find that fully one-half of the total earnings
made in the mines, and on the railway, and in private houses
leaves the Province every year in the possession of Chinamen, there to remain for ever. Now, Sir, it would not matter
so much if the places of those who departed were notsupplied
by other Chinamen ; but this is not the case, and these
500 Chinamen will live in China like princes all the days
of their lives, on the amount of money which they have
thus saved, while their places are filled by 500, 600 or TOO
more slaves from China. They are coming and going all the
time, drawing the life-blood out of the Province,- and depriving our people of their just rights; and I say it is no wonder
that our people there have raised their voices against this
invasion, and very justly so too, because they have too good
grounds for so doing with regard to this evil. Now, Sir,
apply this principle and condition of things to the Province
of Ontario, and the other Provinces, and 1 venture to assert
that a remedy for it would be demanded and found in less
than forty-eight hours. I fear, Sir, that unless some restrictions are placed upon the continued influx of Chinese into
that Province, the day is not far distant when they will, monopolize the entire industrial field. We havo already in British
Columbia, some 13,000 or 14,000 Chinese. It is useless to dis-
guise the fact, that unless some measure is adopted immediately to prevent it, they will soon outnumber us; and I am .
sure, that every hon. gentleman in this House will admit, .
that such a state of affairs is not at all desirable. But, Sir, this  reporter had with a gentleman who has built more rail-
evil will not end in British Columbia. The other Provinces
will very soon smart under the demoralizing effects of slave
labor. When the Canadian Pacific Eailway is pushed
through to British Columbia, what will be the result?
Why, these Chinese will find their way into Ontario and
the other Provinces of the Dominion, and what will be the
practical result of their presence in these Provinces?
Why, Sir, the white girls and boys, and the white men,
who are employed in our factories to-day, will be supplanted by Chinese. I was in the little town of Gananoque a
short time ago, and I was delighted to find the numerous
factories there in full blast; and it struck me very forcibly
what a grand thing it was that all those factories should bo
carried on by white labor, and what a curse it would bo to
that little town if the Chinese were permitted to take the
place of those operators. In Montreal, which I visited tho
other day, I was pleased to notice the number of large manufacturing establishments there giving employment to from
400 to 1,600 hands. Just imagine what a terrible curse it
would be, and what poverty would result, in that city, if
these operatives were supplanted by Chinese labor.
It being six o'clock, the Speaker left the Chair.
After Recess.
Mr. SHAKESPEAEE. When the House rose, I was referring to the effects which would follow if the Chinese were
allowed to come into the various Provinces of the Dominion,
and take the place of those who are employed in our
factories. But not only would they replace those people,
but the persons who have helped to build up this country—
those who came into the Dominion when it was a wilderness, and went into the bush and cut down trees, cleared
the forest, and levelled tho hills, and made the wilderness
blossom as the rose—would hav«) to follow the example oi
the factory operators. I repeat, that it is impossible for
white people to compete with the Chinese. ,There was a
time when this question was one in which only the laboring
man was interested, but it is beginning to take a different
shape entirely. In British Columbia, the manufacturers, as
.well as the laboring classes, are beginning to feel 'the evil
effects of the influx of the Chinese, as the latter can manufacture their own goods more cheaply than the white manufacturers. Many persons of that class, who, a short time ago,
were in favor of admitting the Chinese into British Columbia,
now express themselves decidedly opposed to their admission
for the simple reason that they find that the Chinese are
able to produce many articles at a much cheaper rate than
the white manufacturers. As soon as the Pacific Eailway
is finished through to British Columbia, not only will the
Chinese come hero themselves, but they will be in a position
to bring their manufactured goods into Ontario and tho
other Provinces of the Dominion, because they can manufacture them at a cheaper rate than the local manufacturers. We are told that it is economical to employ the
Chinese in preference to white men ; but I am not one of
those who believe that doctrine. I believe that one white
man is as good as half-a-dozen Chinese any time. I am
sure that to-day the contractor for the Pacific Eailway in
British Columbia would not employ the Chinese to the
extent he does if he had white men there to do his work.
I know we find mon in certain positions in society, men
who do not come into contact with Chinese influence, or
Chinese labor, who repeatedly speak in favor of employing
them. But as a rule they are not practical men.
They are men who, in many instances, occupy public
positions, and draw large salaries without doing much for
them. - "Now, Sir, I wish to read a short extract, in refer
ence to this matter, from an interview which a newspaper roads than  any other  man in  the same  length of time.
His name is Mr. Clark.   He says :
" It is stated, sir, that you are about to undertake the fiual completion of the line (the Northern Pacific) between the Eastern and
Western ends.
" I may or may not. It is a question of time and labor. I can
engage to complete the road before the close of July next, but I must
introduce white in the place of Chinese labor.
" Then you will not use Chinese labor on the eastern end of the
Northern Pacific ?
"No ; we have not, and if we had, I am of opinion that there would
have been at least another year's delay in the completion of a through
line between Portland and Chicago. I have no faith in Chinese labor.
* * I have uo hesitation in saying that Chiuese day labor is a
After referring to a number of roads which he has built,
ho goes on : .
"I have no hesitation in making the assertion that the work has
been done much cheaper, much better, more quickly, and more substantially, than it could have been done with Chinese labor."
That is the opinion of a practical man, who has employed
both white labor and Chinese labor, and I prefer taking the
testimony of such a man to that of men who have had no
•experience whatever iu the business. From a sanitary
point of view, the Chinese are a great drawback to the
•community in which they live, especially where they are
found in large numbers as they are in the city of Victoria.
I know it will be said that wo ought to pass sanitary
measures compelling them to live properly. Well, I can
say that we have done so; but people who have had no
dealings *with the Chinese can form no conception of the
trouble and expense which they cause to corporations that
try to make them comply with tho regulations. If they
are prosecuted, sometimes lawyers will take up their cases—
and they are excellent clients for the lawyers. They pay good
fees; they have plenty of money, and they do not mind the
money so long as they win the case. We have a by-law in
Victoria to regulate the sanitary condition of these people,
and men-^harve-tieeu" e-mptoyed In order to try "and
compel them to live as they ought to live. It is also found
to be very difficult to get any taxes from them. I have no
hesitation in sayiDg that out of the 13,000 or 14,000 Chinese
we have in British Columbia, not more than 9,000 pay
their share of taxes. Not only do they not pay their taxes,
but we have frequently to employ extra men in order to
secure what we do get from them. During the construction of the Pacific Eailroad in British Columbia, a year ago,
the Superintendent of Police and three or four deputies
were ordered to go up the railroad for the purpose of
assisting to collect the revenue taxes from tho Chinese who
were working on the road. Now, it is certainly very
unfair that the Government should be obliged to go
to so much more trouble and expense to get their
taxes from that class of people than from any
other portion of the population. I have no doubt hon. gentlemen will wonder at this; but persons who have not resided
among these people, and seen their tactics and their wily
ways, cannot possibly understand this question thoroughly.
As an evidence of the unanimity of feeling that prevails in
British Columbia upon this subject, I may mention that a
few days ago a resolution was unanimously passed in the
Local Legislature, which is now assembled, urging the
Dominion Government to take some steps towards restricting the immigration of Chinese to that Province. Some
years ago, during the Walkem Administration, an Order
was passed that no Chinese should be employed in anyway
by the Local Governments, and from that day to the present
I do not believe that a solitary Chinaman has drawn one
dollar from that Government. In the Municipal Council of
the city of Victoria, seven years ago, I think, I introduced
a resolution that no Chinese should be employed in corporation woiks. That resolution was carried, and not ono
dollar has been paid by the corporation of Victoria to a
Chinaman from that day to the present.    So that we have
done probably all that we can do towards remedying this evil.
But there is a step further we want to go, and which it is
impossible for the Local Government, but is in the power of
this House to take—that is, to place some restriction on
the  continued immigration of Chinese  to  our Province.
The State of California, as you are aware, has passed a Bill
prohibiting Chinese from going in there during the next
ten years.   We all know the difficulties and heartburnings
that the  people of that State have had to contend with,
owing to the large influx of Chinese, before they finally
succeeded in passing the Bill.    And now, what is the result ?
Why, Sir, that British Columbia is to-day the dumping place
of the Pacific coast—the place where the Chinese are dumped.
Hence  the great necessity for taking  some step in the
direction proposed in this Bill.    It will be argued, I know,
that it will be time enough to place some restriction on the
Chinese when the road will be finished;   but that would be
like shutting the stable door after the horse is gone.   That
would be working  backwards.    I  maintain there   is   no
necessity to wait for the completion of the road.    There
are men coming to-day into that Province, and more will
come in, if an effort is not made to prevent a further influx of
Chinese.    There need not be any hesitation on that point.
The Bill I propose to introduce does not propose to interfere
with those Chinese who are in the country to-day.    We are
willing they should remain there; but I think every hon.
member will admit that 14,000 Chinese in a Province so
limited in population as ours, is  quite sufficient for some
time to  come.    The  idea that the  Chinese are going to
leave  and  will become fewer   in   number,  is a  fallacy,
because  there are  large numbers in China only waiting
for  an opportunity lo  come over  into  Canada.   Hence
these people will not leave, and any that may leave will bo
replaced.    During last summer, close upon 8,000 came into
the  port  of Victoria.    Is  it not, then,  high  time  some
restriction should  be placed on their coming.    Supposing,
what is very likely, that 8^000- more should come ia during
the coming summer, what are we to do with them ?    The
question is a serious one, one that affects the vital interests
of the whole Dominion.   This is not a question  which I
bring before  the House just  for the sake of doing  so, but
one in which I feel  interested myself;  and I think  that
every man, especially  one who has a family growing up,
must feel  a deep interest in this  question  as  to what is
to  become  of  the young  people  that are   growing   up
in   tho   country.    In  Australia,   three   colonies    passed
measures restricting the immigration of Chinese, and those
laws  are still i n force.    Hence I  think we  cannot bo far
wrong in passing a measure  similar to that passed in New
South Wales, Australia.    I will just refer to one or two
provisions of that measure for the purpose of showing its
naturo  and extent.    One provides  that on  the  arrival of
any ship at any port in this colony, the master shall deliver
to the collector the  names of the  passengers,  and of the
places whence  they come.    The Bill also provides that no
vessel   shall  bring a greater number of Chinese  than in
the proportion of one to 100 tons of tonnage.    Should the -
captain fail to report, he is subject to a fine of £10; and a
penalty is also attached should he bring a greater number
of Chinese than allowed by law.    There is also a provision
" Notwithstanding anything in this Act contained, any Chinese
arriving iu the colony who produces evidence to the Collector of Customs, or other duly authorized officer, that he is a British subject,
shall be wholly exempt from the operation of this Act, and a certificate
of the Governor of any British Colony, or of a British Consul, shall
be sufficient evidence of the claim of such Chinese to exemption under
this section."
Thus this does not interfere  with British subjects.    This
law also provides:
" The provisions of this Act shall not be applicable to any Chinese
duly accredited to this colony by the Government of China, or by or under the authority ot the Imperial Government on any special
It further provides:
"The penalties and restrictions imposed by this Act shall not, nor
shall any of them, be held to be applicable in respect of any Chinese
being one of the crew of any vessel arriving in any port in New South
Wales, and who shall not be discharged therefrom, or land, except in
the performance of his duties in connection with such vessel."
I maintain that we have a duty to perform in this matter,
and which we owe to our country and our families, that is
to place some restriction to these people coming in. After
the assurance of the hon. First Minister a few days ago, I feel
that this question will be favorably received by this House,
and I am sure by the country at large. Not only in British
Columbia, but in Ontario and Quebec, I find that the people
are in favor of a restrictive measure ; and hence I feel Such
a measure would be in the interest of the whole of this vast
Dominion of which we are so proud. I think we should
take a step this night towards wiping out this incubus upon
our Province, and thus keep within our borders a class of
people who are calculated to sympathize with us in our
trial through life, who will help to build up our country,
who will contribute to our public institutions and to our
churches; whilst the Asiatics never contribute a solitary
dollar to those purposes—with a few exceptions. How are-
we to prosper, how are we to succeed, if these people are
to come in and take our places ? For these reasons I
v.ould ask this honorable House to adopt this resolution,
and vote in favor of restrictive measures upon these people.
Printel by KaoLsab, Roskb & Co., Parliamentary Printers, Welliagton Street, Ottawa.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items