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Chinese-Canadian Day of Shame

3 January 1919
Head tax certificate, Vancouver, 3 January 1919
Library and Archives Canada, RG 76, Vol.712, C.I.5 certificate # 88103

Thousands of young men from China arrived in the 1880s to work on the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Government of Canada imposed many restrictions and regulations on immigrants from China, including a head tax.
In 1885, after the completion of the CP Railroad, the Government of Canada passed the Chinese Immigration Act. This act was intended to limit the entrance of Chinese immigrants to Canada by charging each immigrant with a head tax of fifty dollars. The head tax steadily rose to 500 dollars, the entrance fee young Jung Bak Hun had to pay on 3 January 1919.
This tax was abolished and replaced with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1 July 1923, which essentially closed the doors to the Chinese by restricting their admission to Canada. Ever since, July 1st, a national holiday Dominion Day or Canada Day, is celebrated by Chinese-Canadians as Day of Humiliation or Day of Shame.


From: Library and Archives Canada.