By Order-in-Council (P.C. 1622, 1 September 1885), the Department of Customs was made responsible for the administration of the new Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 (48-49 Vic. Chap. 71), which placed special controls on the immigration of Chinese persons and provided for the registration of Chinese immigrants in Canada. The Order-in-Council allowed customs officers in port offices to act as controllers of Chinese immigration. The Chief Controller of Chinese Immigration in Ottawa, to whom the controllers reported, was to maintain a general register of all Chinese immigrants entering Canada. In 1947, the Chinese Immigration Act was repealed (C.S., 11 Geo. VI, Chap. 19). Specific regulations discriminating against "Asiatic" immigrants (including the Chinese) continued, however, to be applied until the passage of the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1967.
Each controller was to maintain a register of Chinese immigrants who had entered Canada through the relevant port, recording among other details the payment of or exemption from the head tax. Each month, the controller sent lists of immigrants to the chief controller in Ottawa to be centrally registered in the General Registers of Chinese Immigration. Identifying certificates were issued to each immigrant upon entry to Canada. These could also replace lost entry documents. The certificates were retained by the immigrant, not by the Government of Canada. A selection of Chinese Immigration (C.I.) certificates is held at Library and Archives Canada.
General Registers of Chinese Immigration
The General Registers of Chinese Immigration, 1885-1949 (RG 76 D2a) were created at the headquarters of the Chinese Immigration Service in Ottawa. These registers list all immigrants of Chinese origin arriving in Canada between 1885 and 1949. Some entries for residents arriving in Canada date back to 1860. The names in the registers are arranged numerically by serial number, in approximate chronological order by the date the notice of the immigrant's arrival was submitted to Ottawa.
The registers contain columns for the following information:
Port of New Westminster Register of Chinese Immigration
The Port of New Westminster Register of Chinese Immigration, 1887-1908 (RG 76 D2bi) contains names of Chinese immigrants who registered and paid the head tax at the port of New Westminster, British Columbia, in the years 1887 to 1898, 1907 and 1908. This is the only port register known to have survived. Names in this register should also be found in the General Registers of Chinese Immigration created by headquarters in Ottawa. The names are arranged in numerical sequence by declaration number.
The registers contain columns for the following information:
Newfoundland Register of Arrivals and Outward Registrations
The Newfoundland Register of Arrivals and Outward Registrations (RG 76, Volume 1071) consists of two separate lists. The first list includes the names of Chinese persons entering Newfoundland as immigrants under the Newfoundland Chinese Immigration Act of 1906, who were issued identifying NF 63 certificate Nos. 1 to 384 from June 4, 1910 to March 26, 1949. The second list gives the names of persons leaving Newfoundland temporarily or permanently under Newfoundland C.I.9 certificate Nos. 1 to 436, issued from September 6, 1906 to February 24, 1950. Both lists are typed.
The first list for people entering Newfoundland includes the following information:
The second list for people leaving Newfoundland includes the following information:
Library and Archives Canada also holds other registers for Chinese immigrants. Consult Chinese Immigration Records to learn more about these records. They have not been digitized, but most are available on microfilm and can be borrowed through interlibrary loan.
This research tool provides access to 98,361 references to the General Registers of Chinese Immigration, the Port of New Westminster Register of Chinese Immigration and the Newfoundland Register of Arrivals and Outward Registrations held at Library and Archives Canada. The registers were consulted in order to verify the names of immigrants. The records have been digitized and are searchable by name.
The database entries reflect the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.
Important note: Given that some of the names are very difficult to read, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete. In your search, consider using slight variations on the spelling of the name. For example, if you are searching for the name "Low," you might also try "Lon" or "Lor."
The search screen allows you to search by the name of the immigrant, the year of registration and/or the certificate number.
Names were input as they appear in the register; no distinction was made between given name(s) and surname. Try searching by surname only.
When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit." The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.
Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain more detailed descriptions.
Results Summary List
The results summary list contains the following fields:
You can export the results to a portable storage device or to your computer.
Click on the underlined name of the person of interest to you to access the detailed description.
The detailed description contains the following fields:
Click on View PDF to see a digitized image of the page of interest to you.
You can print the images or save them on your computer. Use the following access link for other options, such as borrowing microfilm.
Other archival records exist for Chinese immigration. Consult Chinese Immigration Records to obtain more information about these records.
In partnership with Library and Archives Canada, the Vancouver Public Library hosts a Chinese-Canadian Genealogy website (www.vpl.ca/ccg/index.html) that provides research tools and information in English and Chinese. The site includes a newly launched wiki (http://ccgwiki.vpl.ca/index.php/ccg_wiki) that enables community members, researchers and genealogists to contribute interactively to a greater knowledge of early Chinese immigration and settlement in Canada. Their contributions enhance information reflected in original records and add historical accounts about the lives of these early immigrants and their families.
Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Department of History at the University of British Columbia (www.ubc.ca/), without which this project would not have been possible.