SONG OF DAY.Gordon Lightfoot - 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy' - This song describes the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was commissioned by the CBC for a special broadcast on January to start Canada's Centennial year.
Mass grave of Chinese railroad workers near Penwell, Texas
1886: Chinese camp, Kamloops, British Columbia - In the late 19th century, many Chinese migrant workers came to the "Golden Mountain" (as they called North America) to work on the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Wages were low, conditions were harsh, and discrimination was rife - they were hired simply because they were cheap, expendable labour - but for many, even that was wealth compared to what they had back home.
Circa 1880 (Date Unknown). British Columbia, Canada. Appoximately 10 Chinese workers and a horse working on building the Candian Pacific Railway. To help speed up the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Chinese workers were imported to work in the railroad, doing the more dangerous work such as blasting rocks with explosives. They were also paid a lot less than the white workers. -Richard
Canadian society became more hostile towards immigrants to the point where the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 that banned most immigration from Asia. Racism was a major issue during this time.
Nitro - n a CPR construction site in British Columbia, a young Chinese worker volunteers to set a dangerous nitroglycerine charge in return for his wife's boat fare to Canada.
Circa 1900 (Date unknown). B.C, Canada. Sample immigration certificate. The Canadian government had imported Chinese workers to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway. However, they were paid a lot less than the white workers. In the 1871 census, approximately 3,000 out of 33,600 immigrants were Chinese. In 1885, all Chinese immigrants had to first pay a $50 fee, and was raised to $500 in 1903. This is commonly referred to as the "Chinese Head Tax". -Richard