BC Social History


Saltspring Island

500 came in 19thC to work as labourers in fur trade

Worked at HBC farms from Oregon to Alaska

Worked on HBC ships

30-60% of HBC workforce

Lived outside stockade of Ft. Vancouver

Settled outside of Ft Langley

Settled in Maple Ridge(Kanaka Creek), downtown Vancouver(Coal Harbour), sawmill in North Van (Lonsdale), downtown Victoria, Salt Spring Island

1870 12 families settled in Salt Spring Island, 24 families in 1890

Fruit growers

Most were fishermen, loggers, whalers, boatmen

Women were domestic

Half of the enrolment at Isabella Point and Beaver Point in early 1900s

Lost  Hawaiian culture through second generation

Made coke to sell to Hastings Mill


James Douglas urged the Black Communitty in California to come to come to BC because of slavery and racism in the US and to helpreate a stablepopulation

Settled on farms, teachers, laywers, dentists

First Saltspring Island teacher 1861 John Craven Jones

13 families in 1859

Jones was paid less and was dismissed in 1875

600 to Van Island

Stores in Victoria

Dease Island Fishery

First came a committee of 35 Blacks from San Fran to assess suitability

Miffin Gibbs showered with flour in a theatre in Victoria

Had Rights in Canada

Segregation in Victoria


1850s through 1890ss

Came from California

Earliest community in Victoria and moved to New West

1886 had a settlement in Vancouver

Strathcona in 1900s-1910s developed synagogues, schools, kosher stores, health

Moved south of Flase Creek as their lives improved

Stores in Yale, Barkerville

Oppenheimers – transported gold

Mayor in 1888 (second)

1863 first synagogue in Victoria

100 Jewish merchants to Victoria in 1858

Developed wholesale and distribution networks from Victoria for the gold rush

Mid 1860s population to 250

Enjoyed acceptance

Selim Franklin as first MLA

Lumley Franklin as mayor of Victoria 1866 (union of BC)

Went to Vancouver after the gold rush 1870s

Early 1900s population grew to 2440 (1931)

Vancouver synagogue in 1911-12


First to arrive as part of Hong Kong regiment during Diamond Jubilee 1897, thought it resembled Punjab

Punjabi soldiers in 1902

Soldiers treated with respect

$1/day – less than Caucasian workers

Up to 50 men living under one roof

700 immigrated in 1906 and forced Canada to take notice

Workers laid off, barred from public places, evicted, abused by police and press

Continuous Journey Clause in 1908

Must have $200 to enter

1914 Komagata Maru – 2 months on ship, sent back, 19 died

Family not allowed to immigrate

1000 in 1901

Guardwaras set up to teach children and building community

Mill and farm owners

Worked around Port Moody, New West, Victoria, Vancouver (saw mills)


1886 90 Chinese on Carrall and Pender (Chinatown)

1890s about 1000 in Chinatown

Workers slept in single rooms

Prostitution, smoking, and gambling

1904-1905 expanded west of Carrall with grocery shops, tailors, restaurants

Expanded east to Main street

1902 Asiatic Exclusion League riots through Chinatown

By 1910, Chinatown was 4 blocks

CPR made trade thrive in Vancouver vs Victoria

1911 3500 Chinese in Vancouver

Benevolent societies to help immigrants

CPR Brought large numbers to Canada

Willing to do the dangerous work

Paid lower wages

Head tax in 1885

Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood

Opium smoking prohibited in 1908

Riots because they thought Asians were taking jobs away by accepting less pay

10,000 protesters

1923 banned Chinese immigration

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