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Chinese 
Footprints 
Across Canada 
Presented by May P. Chan 
Prairie History Room, Regina Public Library 
Harvest Your Fa...
Outline 
 Introduction 
 Beginning Your Genealogy 
Research 
Tackling Perceived Challenges 
Understanding Key Historic...
Introduction 
 Majority of genealogical resources and services are 
geared towards those with British, American and 
even...
Beginning Your Genealogy 
Research
Commonly Perceived Challenges 
1. Language Barrier – Do I need to know how to read 
and speak Chinese before I can begin m...
#1: Language Barrier 
 Chinese language has 7 major spoken dialects, 
including Mandarin (Northern China) and 
Cantonese ...
#2: Lack of Cultural Awareness 
Understanding Chinese Family Names 
For example, according to In Search 
of the Your Asian...
Understanding Chinese Family Names 
Western Naming Convention 
May CHAN 
Chinese Naming Convention 
CHAN May (Mie Ping) 
I...
#3: Lack of Direction or Guidance 
IMPORTANT TIP!!! Chinese Canadian genealogy is no different from 
any other ethnic gene...
Vancouver Public Library’s Chinese-Canadian 
Genealogy Website ( 
http://www.vpl.ca/ccg/index.html) - FREE
#4: Lack of Genealogical Records 
Most of the genealogical records that we use (e.g. 
census and passenger lists) were not...
Brief Timeline of Chinese Immigration to 
Canada – Part 1 
1st Arrival of 
Chinese 
Immigrants to 
Canada 
Chinese 
Settle...
Brief Timeline of Chinese Immigration to 
Canada – Part 2 
Chinese 
Immigration Act 
(the Exclusion 
Act) 
Repeal of the 
...
Where to Look for 
Genealogical Information
Vital Records 
(Births, Marriages and Deaths) 
Vital records are a provincial jurisdiction so check with the appropriate p...
Census Records 
Recommended resources: 
Canadian Genealogy Centre’s Census Page 
(1871-1911 federal census as well as 190...
City Directories 
British Columbia City Directories 1860- 
1955 (http://www.vpl.ca/bccd/index.php) 
- FREE 
Peel’s Prairie...
Tip!!! 
Some communities published 
their own Chinese directory & 
telephone book. So be on the 
lookout for these books!
Immigration Records 
Recommended Resources: 
Immigrants from China database 1885 to 1949 ( 
http://tinyurl.com/immigrants...
Chinese Head Tax (1885-1923) 
 Tax fixed on all Chinese entering Canada. The Chinese 
were the only ethnic group to be ta...
Chinese Head Tax Registers
Concept of Paper “Children” 
 Even after the Exclusion Act was repealed in 1947, 
restrictions on Chinese immigration con...
Cemetery Records 
CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery Project ( 
http://cemetery.canadagenweb.org/) - FREE
Newspapers 
Recommended Resources: 
British Columbia Historical Newspapers ( 
http://historicalnewspapers.library.ubc.ca/...
Multicultural Canada 
http://multiculturalcanada.ca - FREE 
The site offers Chinese 
language newspapers, 
newsletters and...
Additional Resources
Military Records 
 Due to racism, the majority of 
Chinese Canadians were barred 
from enlisting in the Canadian 
militar...
Resources for China 
FamilySearch.org (www.familysearch.org) - FREE 
Cemetery Records 1820-1983 
(http://tinyurl.com/og9he...
Message Boards 
Chinese Genealogy (http://siyigenealogy.proboards.com/) – 
FREE
Message Boards Continued 
Chinese/Siyi Genealogy (forums as well as language lessons & 
village database; http://legacy1.n...
Conclusion
Purpose: to educate you about these resources (not 
always genealogical in nature) and to provide you with 
the basic rese...
Thank-you 
Contact: 
Email: maychan@reginalibrary.ca 
For a copy of this powerpoint and an 
updated bibliography, go to: 
...
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Chinese Footprints Across Canada - 2014 Version

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Updated presentation about how to research Chinese Canadian family roots.

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Chinese Footprints Across Canada - 2014 Version

  1. 1. Chinese Footprints Across Canada Presented by May P. Chan Prairie History Room, Regina Public Library Harvest Your Family Tree Conference, Kelowna, BC, - Sept. 27, 2014 ©2014
  2. 2. Outline  Introduction  Beginning Your Genealogy Research Tackling Perceived Challenges Understanding Key Historical Events Where to Look for Genealogical Information  Additional Resources  Conclusion
  3. 3. Introduction  Majority of genealogical resources and services are geared towards those with British, American and even Western European roots  Researching non-European roots can be extremely “challenging” and frustrating  As more ethnic-specific resources are becoming readily available, there is a general lack of understanding about how to use them or even how these records were created/maintained  Purpose: to educate you about these resources (not always genealogical in nature) and to provide you with the basic research skills and strategies to tackle your ethnic genealogy
  4. 4. Beginning Your Genealogy Research
  5. 5. Commonly Perceived Challenges 1. Language Barrier – Do I need to know how to read and speak Chinese before I can begin my research? 2. Lack of Cultural Awareness – Why can’t I find my ancestor’s name in the genealogical records? 3. Lack of Direction or Guidance – Help! There are no step-by-step guide or Youtube videos to assist me in my Chinese Canadian genealogy research. 4. Lack of Genealogical Resources – My great grandfather helped to build the railway. That is all I know about him. Where else can I find information?
  6. 6. #1: Language Barrier  Chinese language has 7 major spoken dialects, including Mandarin (Northern China) and Cantonese (Southern China) and 4 writing systems, including pinyin  Most of the genealogical records you will be using, such as census records, immigration records and city directories, are written in English  However, it will be extremely helpful to recognize some basic Chinese characters, especially the character for the family name
  7. 7. #2: Lack of Cultural Awareness Understanding Chinese Family Names For example, according to In Search of the Your Asian Roots, the surname “CHEN” is represented by 5 different characters, each representing a different geographic area of China and different time period CHEN = CHAN, CHIN, TAN, ZEN, JIN (Korean) and TRẨN (Vietnamese)
  8. 8. Understanding Chinese Family Names Western Naming Convention May CHAN Chinese Naming Convention CHAN May (Mie Ping) Important Tip!!! Like many immigrants, Chinese surnames were “Westernized” either for them by government officials or by themselves to fit in better to their new communities. Remember to record all name variations! Example: MAK Yut Aung (my paternal grandmother) MAK Yut Hung MAI Yuen Ying (Chinese passport)
  9. 9. #3: Lack of Direction or Guidance IMPORTANT TIP!!! Chinese Canadian genealogy is no different from any other ethnic genealogy. You always begin with the “basic rules of genealogy” to help guide you as you start to look for and utilize various genealogical records.
  10. 10. Vancouver Public Library’s Chinese-Canadian Genealogy Website ( http://www.vpl.ca/ccg/index.html) - FREE
  11. 11. #4: Lack of Genealogical Records Most of the genealogical records that we use (e.g. census and passenger lists) were not originally created for genealogists, but for the government officials and agencies that created these records. One important tip that genealogists need to do throughout their research process is to read up on the history of Chinese immigration to Canada as this history will help to explain why certain records were created, how these records were organized and maintained and even, where to begin looking for these records.
  12. 12. Brief Timeline of Chinese Immigration to Canada – Part 1 1st Arrival of Chinese Immigrants to Canada Chinese Settlements Chinese and the Canadian Pacific Railway. 1st Chinese Head Tax Chinese in Saskatchewan Increased Chinese Head Tax 1788 1858 1880 to 1885 1885 1889 1903 50 Chinese carpenters and craftsmen first arrived in Canada as part of John Meare’s crew. The first Chinese gold-miners arrived in British Columbia from San Francisco. Almost all of the early Chinese “pioneers” settled in British Columbia. The construction of the western section of the Canadian Pacific Railway employs thousands of Chinese workers. Many of these workers came from Guangdong province in Southern China. After the completion of the CPR and the lack of need for Chinese workers, the Canadian Government introduced the first head tax to stem the immigration tide. The tax forced Chinese immigrants to pay a tax of $50 per person. First Chinese-owned and operated business in Moose Jaw was Mr. [Tim or Him] Lee’s Lee Kee’s Chinese Laundry. By 1910, Moose Jaw was home to the largest Chinese settlement in Saskatchewan. To stem the ever-increasing Chinese immigration to Canada, the federal government raised the head tax to $500 per person. Those exempt from paying the tax included diplomats, merchants, students, teachers and missionaries.
  13. 13. Brief Timeline of Chinese Immigration to Canada – Part 2 Chinese Immigration Act (the Exclusion Act) Repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act. Right to Vote. Introduction of the “Chinese Adjustment Statement Program” Increased Immigration from Hong Kong Increased Immigration from China Federal Government Officially Apologizes for the Head Tax 1923 1947 1960 1996 2000 2006 The act effectively prohibited Chinese immigrants from entering Canada. Many wives and children in China were unable to join their husbands/fathers in Canada. This act essentially created a forced “bachelor society” for many Chinese men. The Chinese Immigration was officially repealed by the federal government on May 14, 1947. Chinese Canadians were also given the right to vote in federal elections. By 1959, there was a growing concern about the number of illegal Chinese immigrants in Canada. The federal government introduced a program that eventually granted amnesty to over 12, 000 paper “sons” and “daughters”. With the hand over of Hong Kong to China in 1997, many Hong Kong residents opted chose to emigrate to Canada. Between 1991- 1996, it is estimated that 20, 000 Hong Kong residents immigrated to Canada annually. According to the 2002 Statistics Canada, immigration from Mainland China accounted for 15% of all immigrants to Canada. After decades of Chinese groups lobbying the federal government, on June 22, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a public apology and $20, 000 compensation for those who paid the head tax.
  14. 14. Where to Look for Genealogical Information
  15. 15. Vital Records (Births, Marriages and Deaths) Vital records are a provincial jurisdiction so check with the appropriate provincial agency. Because many early Chinese immigrants settled in British Columbia, one important and recommended resource is the British Columbia Vital Events Index: http://tinyurl.com/bc-vitalevents
  16. 16. Census Records Recommended resources: Canadian Genealogy Centre’s Census Page (1871-1911 federal census as well as 1906 & 1916 Prairie census; http://tinyurl.com/lac-census) – FREE Automated Genealogy (1901 and 1911 federal as well as the 1906 Prairie census; www.automatedgenealogy.com/) – FREE
  17. 17. City Directories British Columbia City Directories 1860- 1955 (http://www.vpl.ca/bccd/index.php) - FREE Peel’s Prairie Provinces (Alberta & Manitoba directories; http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/index.html ) - FREE
  18. 18. Tip!!! Some communities published their own Chinese directory & telephone book. So be on the lookout for these books!
  19. 19. Immigration Records Recommended Resources: Immigrants from China database 1885 to 1949 ( http://tinyurl.com/immigrantsfromchina) – FREE Citizenship and Immigration Canada (post 1936; helpful guide to obtaining the files: http://tinyurl.com/lkgw9tt) Canadian Genealogy Centre’s Naturalization Records 1915-1951 ( http://tinyurl.com/lac-naturalization) – FREE
  20. 20. Chinese Head Tax (1885-1923)  Tax fixed on all Chinese entering Canada. The Chinese were the only ethnic group to be taxed in this manner  Exemptions to the tax were given to Chinese students, teachers, merchants and diplomats  Between 1885-1923, there were 10,000 Chinese listed as having paid the head tax (source: http://tinyurl.com/kvr6bn2). The federal government collected approx. $23 million in head taxes (source: http://tinyurl.com/kwe2sg8)  Note: Canada was not the only country to impose a head tax on Chinese immigrants. New Zealand implemented their head tax in 1881 and officially repealed it in 1944 (source: http://tinyurl.com/olfaywj)
  21. 21. Chinese Head Tax Registers
  22. 22. Concept of Paper “Children”  Even after the Exclusion Act was repealed in 1947, restrictions on Chinese immigration continued and led to a growing black market for illegal birth documents  Immigrants (paper “sons” or “daughter”) would purchase these bogus documents stating they were children of Chinese already living in Canada  Between 1960 and 1973, over 12,000 “sons” and “daughters” were granted amnesty by the federal government and naturalized as citizens  Note: bear in mind that family members maybe reluctant to admit that this “practice” may have occurred
  23. 23. Cemetery Records CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery Project ( http://cemetery.canadagenweb.org/) - FREE
  24. 24. Newspapers Recommended Resources: British Columbia Historical Newspapers ( http://historicalnewspapers.library.ubc.ca/) - FREE The British Colonist 1858-1920 ( http://www.britishcolonist.ca/) – FREE Peel’s Prairie Provinces (http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/index.html) – FREE Google Newspaper Archives (http://news.google.com/newspapers) – FREE OurOntario Newspapers Portal (http://news.ourontario.ca/results?q=+) - FREE
  25. 25. Multicultural Canada http://multiculturalcanada.ca - FREE The site offers Chinese language newspapers, newsletters and association records.
  26. 26. Additional Resources
  27. 27. Military Records  Due to racism, the majority of Chinese Canadians were barred from enlisting in the Canadian military during the World Wars. However, a couple hundred did manage to enlist and serve for Canada.  Military records are held by Library and Archives Canada and Department of National Defence (post WWII). Read this helpful guide about accessing service files: http://tinyurl.com/qxylbwv) Chinese Canadian Military Museum (honour roll, oral history & exhibits; http://www.ccmms.ca/) – FREE
  28. 28. Resources for China FamilySearch.org (www.familysearch.org) - FREE Cemetery Records 1820-1983 (http://tinyurl.com/og9he37) - FREE Collection of Genealogies 1239-2013 (http://tinyurl.com/nt6cqag) - FREE
  29. 29. Message Boards Chinese Genealogy (http://siyigenealogy.proboards.com/) – FREE
  30. 30. Message Boards Continued Chinese/Siyi Genealogy (forums as well as language lessons & village database; http://legacy1.net) - FREE
  31. 31. Conclusion
  32. 32. Purpose: to educate you about these resources (not always genealogical in nature) and to provide you with the basic research skills and strategies to tackle your ethnic genealogy  Researching Chinese genealogy is no more challenging than researching any other ethnic roots  Accept the fact that records have been “lost” or “destroyed” over time.  Employ more than one research tool and more than one research strategy  Be prepared for the roadblocks and challenges ahead – e.g. Trying to trace your roots back to China when you do not know to read the Chinese script  Discover what resources are available in your community – e.g. Chinese association group or language school  Genealogy is both a personal and a collaborative project – e.g. don’t be afraid to ask for help and do utilize resources such as message boards
  33. 33. Thank-you Contact: Email: maychan@reginalibrary.ca For a copy of this powerpoint and an updated bibliography, go to: www.slideshare.net/maychan

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