Fraser River - Changing faces
Immigration trends in British Columbia
The first immigrants from Asia arrived in
British Columbia in the 1850s. By 1911 almost 10 percent
of the population was Asian.
The Asians newcomers were not popular with everyone
and a series of restrictive immigration measures were
imposed. In 1885, Chinese immigrants had to pay a head
tax of $50.00. This tax was increased until it reached
$500.00 in 1903. Asian settlers continued to arrive.
In many cases, employers would pay the head tax, because
Asians worked for less money than other people. The Canadian
Pacific Railway, for example, saved $3.5 million by using
Immigrants from India had special claims for entry,
since both Canada and India were members of the British
Empire. However, this did not make the immigrants popular.
In an infamous incident in May 1914, the vessel, the
Komagata Maru, with 400 Indians aboard, was denied entry
into Canada. The ship sat in Vancouver's harbour for
two months, before eventually returning to India.
During World War II, Canadians of Japanese ancestry
were placed in concentration camps and their property
was confiscated by the Canadian government which distrusted
their loyalty. These people were never adequately compensated
for their losses of freedom and property.
Recently, many wealthy residents of Hong Kong have been
attracted to British Columbia and the Fraser River valley
by federal immigration policies that encourage the entry
of business people willing to invest here. Some well-off
Chinese immigrant families wanted to establish Canadian
citizenship because of the transfer of control of Hong
Kong from Great Britain to the People's Republic of China
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