Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Roger Cheng  Roger Cheng, my grand dad's hero.

The Chinese in Canada were subjected to a head tax like the poll tax in New Zealand.

From the time Chinese first arrived in British Columbia in 1858 until 1874, they were like any other migrants: they occupied lower paid jobs. While people of Caucasian descent were paid $2 a day, the Chinese accepted $1.35 a day for the same work.
However, Chinese were also treated different than any other immigrants in two important ways: they were forbidden to vote until after WWII, and they were subjected to a head tax.
The Chinese were always considered “heathens” and by 1875  the government declared, “Chinese of the Province of British Columbia may not make application to have their names inserted in any list of voters and are disqualified from voting at any elections.”
A decade later, in 1885 the Chinese became prey to a head tax.  The head tax was designed to discourage Chinese from entering Canada. The tax started at $50, and less than four decades later (1903) had risen to $500 per person, a fortune at that time.
When World War I was declared in 1914, approximately 200 Chinese volunteered for the Canadian Army.  Marjorie Wong in her book, The Dragon and the Maple Leaf,  listed some of the men from British Columbia, including two brothers from Shuswap area: Wee Hong Louie and Wee Tan Louie.  The widow of Wee Tan donated his helmet to the Chinese Canadian Military Museum which is on display.

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