Work

How did Chinese Canadians find jobs? What kinds of opportunities were open to them? Until 1947, Chinese Canadians were not allowed to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. They were excluded from professional associations and many high paying jobs were not open to them. However, Chinese Canadians found many other ways to make a living. They worked hard to pay off the loans that allowed them to pay for their journey and for the Head Tax. Most early Chinese migrants began their lives in Canada as labourers who worked in mines, logging camps, canneries, farms, restaurants, laundries, and in almost every industry. They built the railroads that allowed mass migration from the Atlantic coast, and they cleared trees for non-Chinese to settle in B.C. They helped build Canada. Money saved went to support loved ones, but the ambitious also looked for better opportunities. For many, finding a better life meant changing jobs and moving to new places throughout Canada or even leaving Canada. Information about better opportunities were passed among friends and along family networks, and older relatives found work for newcomers and helped them get established. Relatives watched out for each other by giving advice, which opened doors to job oportunities. But those who were considered lazy, gambled too much or spent too much money on fancy clothes and going out on dates were also watched closely. Those who were ambitious saved money. As they worked for others in restaurants, corner stores, tailor shops, and laundries, they learned enough so that they could open their own businesses with loans from family and friends. Gold Mountain meant working hard for a dream of a better life. Some found success, others died bitter and broken after long lives of toil.