Chinese immigration records: Sample Chinese immigration certificates

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Document Record

Canada. Dept. of Employment and Immigration
Chinese immigration records: Sample Chinese immigration certificates
RG 76 D 2 g
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.
The C.I. certificates were used, along with the Chinese Immigration Registers, to control the movement of Chinese people in and out of the country, and of seamen sailing out of the Great Lakes system of Ontario. Those in the categories C.I.5, C.I.28, C.I.30, and C.I.36 were the main personal identifying certificates issued to individuals.
This collection consists of sample Chinese immigration certificates (C.I.5, C.I.28, C.I.30, and C.I.36), covering the period 1899 to 1953. The certificates in this collection appear to be samples of documents never collected by the persons to whom they were issued, or confiscated as a result of violations of exit regulations.