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There are stories of a Buddhist monk who landed on the western shores of the continent around 400 B.C. This might have been the first Chinese person to come to what is now known as North America. There was also a group of Chinese carpenters who sailed with Captain John Meares in 1778 in search of furs and who landed on what we now call Vancouver Island. We don't know for sure whether any of these men stayed. We do know that many Chinese men came from China to seek their fortunes in the California gold rush of 1849. When the gold ran out, many of these men headed north in 1858 to find the gold that was being reported in the Fraser Valley area of British Columbia.
Most of these men came from the southern part of China. The population of China had increased and not enough food could be grown to feed everyone. Many people were without jobs. They were hungry and poor. Many decided that going to British Columbia would give their families a better life. However, families often only had enough money to send one male family member. The rest stayed behind. Once the person found work, he would send home what money he could and dream about the day when he could return to China a rich man. But the life these men found was not an easy one. They worked very hard for little pay and too often they were treated very badly in this new land.