Lest we assume that the US has a monopoly on discriminatory immigration policies in North America, let us remember our brothers to the north, and the way that they treated Indian immigrants in the previous century:
On May 23rd, 1914, the Komagata Maru entered Burrard Inlet carrying
376 passengers looking forward to starting their lives in Canada. The
ship and those on board arrived despite the recent introduction of
Canada’s discriminatory Continuous Passage Regulation, a law that
required immigrants to Canada to arrive by a single, direct journey
from their country of origin. Because no direct route between the Dominion of Canada and British
India existed, this policy was a roundabout means to exclude Indian
immigration and preserve — in the words of a popular song of the
time — “White Canada forever.”
Like the Canadians on shore, all Komagata Maru passengers were
subjects of the British Empire and many had fought for Britain, upholding the very freedoms they now desired. Upon arrival, the passengers were immediately detained by Canadian immigration authorities determined to keep the ship at anchor. Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet became the
flashpoint for a standoff that gained international attention.
Their inability to land caused hardship for the passengers, who soon
lacked food and water. The passengers were also denied access to
medical attention, communication with their family and proper legal
counsel. Their challenge to Canada’s right to deny their landing was
delayed and eventually denied. On July 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru
passengers were forced to leave Canada.
– From komagatamaru100.com
Asian American genealogy is difficult. My experience is mainly with Chinese American genealogy, so I’ll start there. As Chinese Americans immigrated, their names were changed to approximately English phonetics. Or they immigrated under false names, like the paper sons. Or the records were lost in the San Francisco fire, or the Chinese Revolution. Family records were destroyed in the 1950’s as the US government scoured Chinatowns for communist sympathizers.
Asian American genealogy is difficult, but not impossible. For some Chinese Americans, the Canadian government is here to help. The Library and Archives Canada have digitized a good number of immigration records through something they call Ancestor Search. To search for a Chinese Canadian, you can use their special database, aptly called “Immigrants from China, 1885-1949”.
Less genealogical, bust still wonderful is their digital image archive. A search for “Chinese” or “Chinois” brings up pages and pages of picture, like this orpailleur Chinois, vers 1875:
Place: Rivière Fraser, C.-B.
Place of creation: No place, unknown, or undetermined
Copy negative PA-125990
Other accession no.
Additional name(s): Photographer: Inconnu.
Additional information: Described by the MSTRCAGE project.
Signatures and inscriptions: (Recto:) — /(Verso:) Chinese Man washing gold Fraser River.
Today’s edition of Out of the Archives asks readers to remember that the United States is not the same thing as America. Instead, we travel to the Northern third of North America, Canada. Specifically, we are looking at the Chung Collection at the University of British Columbia’s Special Collections. There isn’t a lot of information associated with the picture, but the Reverend’s almost invisible mustache caught my eye (that and the frame!):
Reference URL: http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm/ref/collection/chung/id/348
More about the Chung Collection at UBC from their website:
The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection is an outstanding collection of archival documents, photographs, books and artifacts related to three broad themes: British Columbia History, Immigration and Settlement and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Donated in 1999 by Drs. Wallace and Madeline Chung, the Chung Collection is held at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. For further details about the types of items found in the Chung Collection, click here. Selections from the collection have been digitized. For more information about the Chung Collection and a complete inventory, please visithttp://chung.library.ubc.ca.