Chinese Immigrants Canadain Pacific railway

Immigrants from China were brought to Canada because manpower was needed for labour-intensive jobs such as, the construction of the Great Western Railway. (Chan, 17)

Chinese Immigrants working on the Railroad

When British Colombia joined Canada, John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister, wanted a trans-canada railway to join BC with the rest of the country. (Chan, 22)

British Columbia joins Dominium of Canada as the sixth province

Between 1881 and 1884, 17 000 Chinese men were recruited to work on the railroad. They were paid less than white workers. Although everyone (Citizens, Politicians) had strong objections, Macdonald approved the hiring of Chinese immigrants for construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. (Chan, 22)

"Either you must have this labour or you cannot have the railway" (Macdonald)

The Chinese were eager to go, thousands came to the port of Hong Kong. Many had to borrow money for the ship fare, and many were young boys. (Chan, 23)

"China was going through a very difficult famine... they had to leave the country one way or another" (Young)

Many of the immigrants were not prepared for the brutal Canadian weather; they only had cotton pants and shoes. (Chan, 23)

Chinese immigrants were ill-prepared for the brutal weather

For up to two months, the immigrants suffered a miserable journey from Hong King to Victoria, BC, being tossed by the waves. The conditions were harsh, they only had fresh air during meals; many got seasick. (Chan, 23)

Chinese immigrants lived in cramped conditions

The Chinese immigrants were forced to do the most dangerous tasks; approximately 600 Chinese workers died for every mile of track. (Chan, 25)

Chinese workers for the CPR

On November 7, 1985, at 9:22, the sections of the railway were officially joined. The last spike is the greatest symbol of Canada's unity. The CPR, completed six months ahead of schedule, would not have been built without Chinese labourers; non were invited to this historic event. (Chan, 25)

The Last Spike // La Dernier Crampon

The Original Purpose was the construction of a transcontiential railway.

A promise to British Columbia upon it's entry into Confederation.

The Railway

Completed in 1985 - connected Eastern Canada to BC and plays an important role for the development of the country. It was built in extremely dangerous conditions by thousands of labourers ( including 15,000 Chinese immigrants), the railway made communication and transportation across the country more efficient.

Cheap Labour

The Chinese immigrants workers came cheap, a fraction os the whites. They had to purchase their own gear as well, and did the most dangerous and deadly work that whites refused to do.

The Last Spike

The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed six years ahead of schedule. It would not have been built without the Chinese workers, yer they were not invited to the most historic event; The Last Spike. The Chinese sacrificed the most for the construction of the CPR were not able to attend the the driving of the last spike. Their blood, sweat, and tears meant nothing.

I made this little collage to represent how the Chinese immigrants worked so hard on the Railroad, but they weren't invited to the driving of the last spike. This is extremely unfair to the labourers as they were being paid less, suffered horrible working conditions, and weren't provided with any of the right tools to complete the job. You can see that the immigrants did not have proper clothes for the weather, or any tools to help them. The immigrants played a huge role in the construction of the CPR and they were given little to no credit or appreciation.

Work Cited

  • Chan, Arlene. The Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century. Toronto: James Lorimer &, 2014. Print.
  • Lavallé, Omer. "Canadian Pacific Railway." The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
  • "Chinese Labour Builds the CPR." Chinese Labour Builds the CPR | Asia Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.


Created with images by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL - "Dominion of Canada" • cliff1066™ - "San Francisco Chinatown" • Ettore Balocchi - "British Colombia - Banff NP-7" • skeeze - "workers construction site" • J McSporran - "Rusting Hulk" • Prayitno / Thank you for (11 millions +) views - "Snow Storm # 3" • simpleinsomnia - "Decrepit ship at a dock" • Gustavo Valentim - "worker" • roland - "the-last-spike-20120728-1.jpg" • vivianejl - "Railway" • Toronto History - "Canadian Pacific Railway rolling stock" • skeeze - "workers construction site" • marcdroberts - "Railway Lines"

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