In this chapter, we have provided two colonial reflections on immigration into the region in the mid-nineteenth century. In documents one and two, James Douglas and the Bishop of Columbia, George Hills, report on the development of mining along the Fraser River in the early 1860s. These passages have been selected to get you thinking about the place of Chinese migrants within this economy and the way that the Gold Rush drove colonial settlement on the West Coast.
Though thousands of Chinese men migrated into the region (there were 7,000 in the colony by 1860), Tzu-I Chung’s article (Interpretation 1) demonstrates the deep history of Chinese trade with North America’s western coast. Beginning nearly a century before, when English trader John Meares brought 50 workers from Canton province to help him build a fur trade post, Canada’s connection to China was long standing and anchored in global trading systems that complicate the East-West historical narrative common in Canadians’ popular memory.
- James Douglas to the Duke of Newcastle, 23 April 1860, Further Papers Relative to the Affairs of British Columbia, Part IV, (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1862), 4-6.
- William Carew Hazlitt, The Great Gold Fields of Cariboo, (London: Routledge, Warne, & Routledge, 1862), 158-161.
- Tzu-I Chung, “Kwong Lee & Company and Early Trans-Pacific Trade: From Canton, Hong Kong, to Victoria and Barkerville,” B.C. Studies, 185 (Spring 2015), 137-161.