Chinese Head-Tax: a Discriminatory Piece of Legislation Essay

1775 Words Mar 14th, 2008 8 Pages
Canada is a country built on immigration, mainly British at first, but from all over the world afterwards. Chinese immigration to Canada dates back to the period of the gold rush when they were recruited to mine. In the 1880's, the Chinese population increased after Canada joined the confederation and extra labour was required to build a cross-country railway. Due to the poor economy in China, many Chinese were willing to migrate and work for low wages. The Canadian government seized this opportunity and allowed the companies working on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to import Chinese immigrants. With a drive for completion a significant number of Chinese were recruited. In order to control this increase in immigration, the …show more content…
As a result the federal government did not take action at first. By 1885, the CPR was completed and the demands for action increased, so in order to satisfy the public, the government enacted the Immigration Act which included the head-tax. During this period, the Chinese entered the city looking for other sources of employment; as they would accept low-wages, businesses were willing to hire them. Although the $50 head-tax slowed immigration, the public kept pushing the government to be stricter as there were too many Chinese in the city. Again the government conformed to the wishes of the public and raised the tax to $100 in 1900. Most Chinese worked in the salmon canning industry (Wing), while others worked as chefs in restaurants making only a few dollars a week (Bright ,13). By sticking together and preserving their language and culture, Chinese gave Canadians more reason to discriminate against them. Chinese were completely a different race from the British, and as John A. Macdonald said, the Chinese migrant "is a stranger, a sojourner in a strange land ... he has no common interest with us ... he has no British instincts or British feelings or aspirations"; Canadians didn't believe that they could assimilate well into the Canadian