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Immigrants from China database updated at Library and Archives Canada

In Canada, May is Asian Heritage Month, and Library and Archives Canada has announced it has updates to the Immigrants from China database.


Jumbo in the doorway of Jumbo's cabin.
Jumbo in the doorway of Jumbo’s cabin.

Although I have no Chinese ancestry (at least to my knowledge), I’ve always been fascinated with the history of Chinese immigrants working in the coal mines.

This is the result of living near Cumberland, BC, one of the earliest coal mines in the province.

In my twenties, I frequently went on ‘adventures’ with my camera and one of the places I visited was the old dump site of the Chinese miners’ village and Jumbo’s Cabin. Jumbo was one of the coal miners who, as a group, were key to the progress of British Columbia.

According to

The Chinese were, on this occasion, shipped as an experiment: they have generally been esteemed an hardy, and industrious, as well as ingenious race of people; they live on fish and rice, and, requiring but low wages, it was a matter also of œconomical consideration to employ them; and during the whole of the voyage there was every reason to be satisfied with their services. If hereafter trading posts should be established on the American coast, a colony of these men would be a very valuable acquisition.

—John Meares, Voyages Made in the Years 1788 and 1789, from China to the North West Coast of America.

The Immigrants from China database includes the C.I.9 certificates of Chinese immigrants. Included in these records are photographs, personal information such as name, age, place of birth, date and port of departure; and the ship’s name.