At the new Chinese Canadian Museum in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, an exhibit struck a chord with Peter Wong, 72, during a recent visit — his first since the museum opened in March 2020. He interjected as a museum guide discussed Canada’s Chinese Head Tax, the discriminatory 1885 law that discouraged Chinese immigration after thousands of laborers finished backbreaking work building the Canadian Pacific Railway. About two-thirds of those workers were from China.
Wong recounted that he has no early photos of himself with his father, who emigrated from China to British Columbia. When Wong was a child, his father burned their family photographs. He was worried they might be used as evidence to deport the family during a period when Canada tightened immigration policies.