Chinese – Observations on Newspaper Articles

Chinese – Observations on Newspaper Articles

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Chinese workers in front of Kee Chinese Variety Store in Rossland, BC

In studying the articles from the earliest newspapers of the Boundary and West Kootenay mining camps and towns of B.C., one can say that the Chinese were living in many of those mining towns almost from their inception. (The exception seems to be the Slocan and Lardeau areas where they were not welcome.)

The Chinese were considered good workers and generally worked for less money than a white person. The Chinese were strongly discouraged from working underground by local Trade and Labour Councils and in fact, in many communities, these Councils led the opposition to any kind of work employment of the Chinese.

The Chinese seemed to be willing to do any kind of work and most were employed as cooks, domestic help, woodcutters and labourers. They operated Chinese laundries in all mining communities and owned and operated a few stores (starting with the first stores in Rock Creek).

Chinese gardens were developed in any community in which the Chinese stayed – Rock Creek, Kaslo, Nelson, Greenwood, Trail, and Rossland – they met a need in the booming mining camps where the cost of importing food was high and provided a source of income for the Chinese.

Almost all the newspaper articles spoke negatively about having Chinese in the community. Trade and Labour Councils didn’t want the Chinese because they were cheap labour and took jobs away from the white men.

The Chinese did not assimilate. The Chinese sent their money back to China. The Chinese lived where they worked and conditions were crowded. Unclean conditions in laundries caused municipal restrictions and bylaws specific to Chinese laundries. The Chinese were associated with vice – gambling and prostitution in large cities and they were infidels. Feelings against the Chinese were strong and when government task forces came into the communities seeking input they heard from many. (The Head Tax was raised to $100 from $50 in 1901).

 

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