OCCSC Historical Project: Telling the Stories of Families in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario affected by the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Acts

Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC).
December, 2010 - March, 2012
Ottawa, ON
Project Details


Some founders of the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC) http://occsc.org were children of head tax payers. Among the first children of Chinese immigrants to be born in the Ottawa area, they grew up in the shadow of the Chinese Exclusion Act. In these small towns, often families first opened laundries, then ran the lone Chinese-owned cafe. Their stories, from the era of the head tax through to the repeal of the Exclusion Act, remained largely untold—even within families. For that reason, in 2011-12, the OCCSC undertook a project to create a website to discover, share and preserve stories from that time, to safeguard a place for Ottawa area pioneers in the historical record and to provide an educational resource for future generations and researchers. On “Lives of the Family” http://livesofthefamily.com/ are stories of more than a dozen families, almost two hundred images and as well, video reminiscences of seven men and women. The video clips are featured below.

Website Fly-through

Marion Hum

A gate needs a key

The counter is big but the space is small

That makes our family proud

Robert Hum

They never said no

The elders respected her

William Joe

It was a hard, hard life

They slaughtered their only chicken

Golden Lang

My father wanted the name, Golden Gate

Every year a Christmas card

Hin Lew

More than five Per Cent

A lab coat like this

Wartime, schooling and work

Gordon Wong

I saw the picture in Time magazine

They wanted to sell

Sometimes we go to Dow's Lake

Harry Sim

The boys had to slug it out

Dear Mom...