Chinese Nationalist League Club

Street Address : 110 Queen Street
Period : After 1950

Built 1880, this brick double house is an excellent example of Victorian construction and has a carriageway leading to the rear yard. It was the former location of the Chinese Nationalist Club, located here in 1963.

After 1946, the CNL was not listed in the Kingston City Directory until 1963, when it reappeared, located at 110 Queen Street but now functioned more as a social organization than a political one. During the 1960s and 1970s, the CNL lost momentum as an organization and decreased in significance for Kingston’s Chinese community.

Systematic Discrimination in Canada and Ontario

Chinese immigrants in Canada faced discrimination and institutionalized racism at all levels of the government. After the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, the Federal government acted to restrict Chinese immigration to address Canada’s growing Chinese population. In 1885, the federal government passed its first anti-Chinese bill, legislating a head tax of $50 to be placed on all immigrants from China. It also restricted the number of Chinese immigrants entering the country and mandated government certificates for all Chinese to enter or leave Canada. This head tax increased over the next eighteen years, peaking in 1903 at $500. In 1923, the Chinese Exclusion Act was introduced, effectively barring all Chinese immigrants who sought to enter the country.

Chinese immigrants also faced discrimination from the Ontario Provincial government. White women were legally prohibited from working in restaurants owned or managed by Chinese because of a Provincial bill passed in 1914. Similar legislation, called the “White Women’s Labour Law” had previously been passed in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. However, Ontario was considered a lenient province because Chinese immigrants could vote and seek employment in various professions such as law, pharmacy, and accounting during the 1920s. This was impossible in provinces such as British Columbia and Saskatchewan that had extensive laws restricting the Chinese.

Canada’s discriminatory legislation against the Chinese was embarrassing in light of the contributions of Chinese-Canadians across the country towards the war effort. In 1947, after 24 years, the Canadian government repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act. In 1962, the Chinese were able to apply to immigrate to Canada as independent immigrants. After the Second World War, the Chinese were allowed the right to vote in provincial and municipal elections. Finally, in 1967 the federal government implemented a universal point system for immigration. Under this new system all ethnic groups were treated equally. While these discriminatory laws were annulled it took considerably more time for the rights of the Chinese to be recognized and protected by the federal government.

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