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Description found in Archives

Royal Commission to Investigate Chinese and Japanese Immigration into British Columbia fonds [textual record]. 

Date(s)

1900-1902

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

0.5 m of textual records

Scope and content

Fonds consists of a report on Japanese immigration, a report on Chinese immigration, transcripts of hearings held in British Columbia and on the West Coast of the United States.

Textual records
90: Open
Volume
from 1 to 3
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown.

Finding aid 33-148 is a handwritten file list. 33-148 (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

The Royal Commission to Investigate Chinese and Japanese Immigration into British Columbia was established under Order in Council P.C. 2187, 21 September 1900, under An Act respecting Inquiries concerning Public Matters (R.S.C., 1886, c.114), and on the recommendation of the Secretary of State. The Commission was mandated to inquire into and report upon statements and representation indicated in Order in Council, P.C. 2187 dated 21 September 1900, to the effect that: the people and Legislature of British Columbia have made on the subject of Chinese and Japanese immigration into that Province; the action of the Government of British Columbia with regard to making the Chinese Immigration Act more restrictive by increasing the capitation tax and decreasing the number each vessel is permitted to carry, or that the importation of Chinese be prohibited; and the question as to whether the Japanese should be treated as the Chinese were, and whether or not they present the same objectionable characteristics as were alleged against the Chinese. The commissioners were Roger Conger Clute, Chairman; Daniel James Munn and Ralph Smith. In January 1901, Smith was replaced as Commissioner by Christopher Foley (Order in Council P.C. 56, 8 January 1901). The secretary was Francis J. Deane.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, there was strong opposition from labour groups, politicians and residents of British Columbia to Chinese immigration. Many wanted it either severely restricted or to have Chinese excluded from entering Canada entirely. The British Columbia legislature tried to limit occupations open to orientals in the province. As early as 1878, it restricted the use of Chinese labour on public works. It also passed a number of other discriminatory acts against the Chinese but most of these were disallowed. Efforts to restrict or exclude Chinese from the province continued as petitions favouring an increase in the "head tax" on Chinese immigrants and for the passage of a Natal Act (a requirement that immigrants be literate in English) poured into Ottawa.

In 1900, complaints were also made to Ottawa against Japanese immigration to British Columbia. In the first four months of that year 4,669 Japanese and 1,325 Chinese landed in the province. This influx of Asians caused considerable dissatisfaction among the working classes who feared that the job market would become overcrowded by cheap labour from both China and Japan. The federal government was especially reluctant to restrict the entry of Japanese to Canada because such a step was counter to Imperial policy. The Government of Canada did, however, pass the Chinese Immigration Act (63-64, Vict. c.32, 1900). It limited the number of Chinese who might be brought to Canada to one person for every 50 tons of cargo, and increased the "head tax" from 0 to 00. On 14 June 1900, when Prime Minister Laurier introduced the Chinese Immigration Act in the House of Commons, he made it clear that the Government of Canada would establish a commission to investigate complaints against both Chinese and Japanese immigration (see Harry Con, et. al., From China to Canada: A History of the Chinese Communities in Canada, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1982, p. 82 and House of Commons, Debates, 14 June 1900, pp. 7408-7409).

Hearings of the commission were held in Victoria, Nanamio, Union, Vancouver, New Westminster, Kamloops, Vernon, Revelstoke, Rossland, Nelson, Sandon and Kaslo from 13 March 1901 to 31 May 1901. The Commissioners also visited canneries, lumber mills and other industries, on the west coast of the United States, including Seattle, Fairhaven, Whatcom, Portland and San Francisco, where large numbers of orientals were employed. RG33-145 General Inventory

Additional information

The commission's report, Part I (Chinese Immigration) was dated 18 February 1902.

The commission's report, Part II (Japanese Immigration) was dated 8 March 1902.

The report was tabled in the House of Commons on 14 April 1902 as Sessional Paper No. 54, 1902. It was printed as: Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese Immigration, Ottawa, King's Printer, 1902, xiv, 430 p. The report includes transcripts of evidence of the Commission.

For more information about royal commissions, researchers should consult: Records of Federal Royal Commissions (RG 33) / James Murray Whalen. -- (General inventory series / Government Archives Division). -- Ottawa : National Archives of Canada, 1990).

Source of title
Order in Council PC 2187, 21 September 1900.

Accruals
No further accruals are expected.

Government

Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1987-88/150 GAD
2. RG33-145