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Time Traveller: Early Chinese Canadians faced horrible racism

May is Asian Heritage Month
Time Traveller, May 12WEB

May is Asian Heritage Month. This photo from 1905 was taken in the garden of North Vancouver’s Langton Lodge at 350 East Second St., the family estate of Col. Alfred Hamersley, Vancouver’s first city solicitor.

The photo shows Jin, who was the Hamersley's cook. 

Early Chinese emigrants like Jin were limited economically due to racial prejudice, which limited the type of work they were able to do.  

Chinese Canadians were seen favourably among white upper-class families because of the discriminatory notion that Chinese men were "submissive" and “feminized” and therefore not seen as a threat ensuring a “safe” and much-needed supply of domestic servants in early British Columbia. 

Jin is shown with a queue - a hairstyle worn by Chinese men until the very early 20th century. Hair on top of the head is grown long and is braided, while the front portion of the head is shaved. Many men, like Jin, wore their queues braided around their heads. The distinctive hairstyle led to it being targeted during anti-Asian riots.

Visit the MONOVA website for more information about the history of the North Shore and to learn about MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver opening in 2021.

Currently, the Archives of North Vancouver at 3203 Institute Rd. in Lynn Valley is open by appointment only. Contact:

Navigate culture on the North Shore by using the North Shore Culture Compass.