General registers of Chinese immigration

Available reels: 7

Document Record

Canada. Dept. of Employment and Immigration.
General registers of Chinese immigration
Registres généraux sur l'immigration chinoise
RG 76 D 2 a
Document source
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Until 1917, two federal departments - Agriculture, followed by the Interior - were responsible for immigration. In 1917, the Department of Immigration and Colonization was established. Since then, Immigration has existed as a separate department, except for the period from 1936 to 1949, when it was the responsibility of Mines and Resources. Today, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for issues dealing with immigration and citizenship. The department was established in 1994 following a reorganization within the federal government.
In 1885, the federal government decided to pass the Chinese Immigration Act, which put a special $50 head tax on Chinese immigrants in the hopes that this would deter the Chinese from entering Canada. No other ethnic group had to pay this kind of tax at the time. The head tax would increase a number of times in the early 20th century, and would prevent wives and families from joining their husbands or fathers in Canada. By 1903, the Chinese head tax was increased to $500 per person to eliminate Chinese immigration. This fee was roughly equivalent to two years worth of wages for a Chinese labourer living in Canada at the time. However, some employers, such as the railways, needed cheap labour, and were willing to pay this fee for adult men. That meant that Chinese immigration wasn't eliminated altogether, but that Chinese women and children didn't get the opportunity to join their husbands and fathers. This created a Chinese bachelor society in Canada. However, in 1923, the federal government passed a law called the Chinese Exclusion Act. This law prevented the immigration of anyone from China. Only 15 Chinese immigrants were allowed into Canada between 1923 and 1947, when this law was finally revoked.
This collection consists of 18 general registers of Chinese immigration or "Chinese General Registers" was created at the headquarters of the Chinese Immigration service in Ottawa. In theory these list all immigrants of Chinese ancestry arriving in Canada from 1885 to 1949. There are some entries for residents whose arrivals in Canada date from as early as 1860. Reels C-9510 to C-9513 are the first 10 registers, covering the years from 1885 to 1903 and reels T-3484 to T-3486 are registers 11 to 18, covering the years from 1903 to 1949. The names in the registers are arranged numerically by Ottawa "serial number" and declaration number; hence, in very rough chronological order by the date the notice of the immigrant's arrival was submitted to Ottawa. Each entry gives the following information: individual's name; port, place and date of registration; number and date of issue of any C.I.5, C.I.6, C.I.28 and C.I.36 certificates granted; amount of head tax paid; sex, age and identifying physical characteristics; occupation; city, village and province of birth in China and last place of domicile; and the port and date of arrival and name of ship on which the immigrant arrived.