Unsung Railway Workers

Unsung Railway Workers takes an initial look at the history of early Chinese Canadian immigrants who were one of the first settlers in North America during the 19th century. Like their European counterpart, the Chinese came to Canada in search of a better life. Some arrived from the United States after a shortage of available work. Many came to North America with the intention of returning to China, hence the reason to maintain their traditional headdress (the queue) which was mandatory in China at the time.

As an immigrant who came to Canada a century later, I am on one hand in awe with the early immigrants’ achievements particularly with respect to completing the most treacherous part of the Canadian Pacific Railway. On the other hand, I am disturbed by a general lack of awareness and appreciation for the history relating to racial challenges faced by these immigrants. To raise awareness, this project is the beginning of an ongoing endeavour to bring forth a truth about the overall experiences of early Chinese Canadian settlers. The hope is to reveal how they suffered, sacrificed, and helped affirm the establishment of Canada as a country.