More Canada: The Komagata Maru

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

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Out of the Archives: Your Canadian Side

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:

 

Chinese man panning for gold

Bilingual equivalent: Chinese man washing gold

Date(s): Vers 1875

Place: Rivière Fraser, C.-B.

Place of creation: No place, unknown, or undetermined

Extent1 photograph

Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Aucune
Graphic (photo)
Copy negative PA-125990
90: Open
Item no. (creator)
30
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Box
S9079
90: Open
Other accession no.
1981-219 NPC

Terms of use: Mention : Bibliothèque et Archives Canada / PA-125990; Restrictions on use: Aucune; Droit d’auteur : Expiré

Additional name(s): Photographer: Inconnu.

Additional information: Described by the MSTRCAGE project.

Signatures and inscriptions: (Recto:) — /(Verso:) Chinese Man washing gold Fraser River.

SourcePrivate

Out of the Archives:

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!):

Portrait_of_Reverend_Chan_Yu_Tan_and_wife_Chan_Wong_Sze

 

Title [Portrait of Reverend Chan Yu Tan and wife Chan Wong Sze]
Identifier CC-PH-00248
Subject Spouses
Clergy
Creator Wand Studio
Date [194-?]
Media type Photographic material
Category Images of Chinese people and communities in North America
Rights These images are provided for research and reference use only. Written permission to publish, copy or otherwise use these images must be obtained from Rare Books & Special Collections http://www.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/.
Repository University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections.
Project website http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm/landingpage/collection/chung
Collection website http://chung.library.ubc.ca
Forms part of Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung collection

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.