Chinese History


From Huaqiao to Residents: The Chinese Experience in Kingston, 1875 to 1980

Origins of Kingston’s Chinese Community

The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Canada in the mid-1800s, drawn by the Fraser River gold rush in British Columbia and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad across Canada. At the time, the Chinese immigrants who came to Canada, were almost exclusively male, both married and single, and sent their salaries back home to their families in China. These immigrants were known in Canada as “sojourners”, a term coined in 1882 by Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald. However, Chinese immigrants did not use this term and referred to themselves as “huaqiao”, meaning “overseas Chinese”.

The Fraser River gold rush ended in 1880 and the Canadian Pacific Railroad was completed soon after in 1885, resulting in a sharp decrease in demand for Chinese labour. As Chinese continued to arrive on the West Coast, many white Canadians believed that their jobs were being threatened by the growing immigrant population and the British Columbia provincial government passed several laws restricting the locations in which Chinese people could work, as well as their ability to be hired by employers. The federal government also enacted a Head Tax of $50 each on all Chinese entering the country in 1885. Chinese immigrants began to head east across Canada looking for work, and slowly began to reach central Ontario and the Maritimes. For Chinese coming to Central Ontario, Kingston was attractive and offered opportunities for advancement.

At the time, most Chinese came to Kingston from Western Canada or Toronto. These Chinese immigrants came almost exclusively from a rural background, and many were originally from Guangdong Province in Southern China, specifically the four counties of Sun-wui, Hoi-ping, Toi-san, and Yin-ping. Immigrants also came from the province of Fujian, the coastal neighbor of Guangdong.

These first Chinese immigrants found work in Kingston’s service sector or started their own businesses, usually laundries and restaurants. There is also some evidence that they sold items such as tea from their laundries as a source of extra income. Later generations began to enter other jobs, trades, and professions and, by 1941, the Kingston City Directory listed Chinese people employed in such varied fields as carpentry and stenography. Most Chinese lived and worked centrally in the downtown core of Kingston, where their business could cater to the surrounding residents, as well as targeting tourists and students. In Kingston, there was no “Chinatown”, an area of the city exclusively for Chinese businesses and residences, but most settled in the downtown core, along Princess Street between Division Street and Sydenham Street. By remaining close to one another, the Chinese community was able to support its members. It was also very common for Chinese residences to be attached to their businesses, adding to this sense of community. Accordingly, other Chinese clubs and organizations were often situated nearby.

Before the arrival of any migrating residents to Kingston, the first Chinese person to come to the city was a traveling lecturer named Wong Chin Loo, who delivered a lecture at Sydenham Street Church about life in China on November 18, 1875. He returned again in November of 1879 and gave a second lecture. A lengthy article in the British Whig accompanied this lecture, detailing aspects of life in China, from diet to religion, for all of Kingston to read. Wong Chin Loo was for the most part received with curiosity and courtesy but there was one incident where he was insulted for his style of dress and the way he spoke. He was the first recorded Chinese person in Kingston.



移民到加拿大的第一批华人是被1800中旬的不列颠哥伦比亚省弗雷泽河淘金和建设加拿大太平洋铁路给吸引来的。那时候,几乎所有的华裔移民都是男人,不管结婚或单身,而且他们把挣来的钱都寄给住在中国的家人。这些移民者在加拿大被称呼为“sojourners”, 意思就是“短暂逗留者”,一个在1882年总理约翰麦克唐纳爵士创造的的词。但是这些华人移民者并没有用这个词,他们称呼自己为“华侨”,意思是“在外国的华人”。


华人移民开始迁移到加拿大东部找工作, 慢慢地到达安大略省中部及加东滨海诸省。对来到安大略中部地华人来说,金斯顿是一个有魅力的地方应为它有许多提升的机会。那个时候,大部分来到金斯顿的华人都来自于加拿大西部或多伦多。这些华人移民以前几乎所有都是农民,许多人的老家是广东省的新会、开平、台山、银瓶。也有许多移民者从广东附近的福建省来。

第一批华裔移民在金斯顿的服务业找到了工作或者是自己开业。最普遍的生意就是开餐馆和洗衣店。也有证据说他们为了更多的收入在洗衣店里卖茶之类的物品。他们的后代却开始找不同的工作和职业。1941年,金斯顿的姓名地址录列了在各种各样的领域的华人,比如木工业和速记。大部分的华人在金斯顿的市中心居住与工作。他们的生意供应给住在周围的居民, 以及游客和学生。金斯顿虽然没有一个独给华人商业和住宿的唐人街,大多数的华人选择居住在市中心沿着公主大道 (Princess Street) Division Street 和 Sydenham Street 之间。由于他们住的离彼此不远,金斯顿的华人群体可以互相照顾。许多家庭都选择住在他们生意的附近,让在金斯顿的华人有更多的社区意识。其他华人社团和组织也相应的位于这区的旁边。

在其他移民者来到金斯顿之前,第一个来到这城市华人是一个旅行演讲者, Wong Chin Loo。1875年11月18日,他在 Sydenham Street 教堂发表了一个关于在中国的生活的演讲。来年的11月,他再次回来发表了第二个演讲。一篇又长又详细的英国辉格的文章伴随了这个演讲,给所有的金斯顿居民读。文章包括了中国的生活的许多方面,诸如饮食与宗教。 他的演讲的大部分的反应是好奇和好意,但是有一次有人侮辱他的穿衣风格和他的口音。他是第一个在金斯顿被记载的华人。