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Chinese, Settlement

Chinese Settlement: Chinese immigration to Canada occurred primarily during the 1880s when Chinese laborers arrived to build the British Columbia sections of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The contractor, Andrew Onderdonk, arranged for more than 18,000 Chinese to come to Canada: some came from the United States, but the majority arrived directly from China aboard chartered vessels. When the CPR was completed, a serious recession began in the Pacific province; it battered the economy and very adversely affected the available labor force throughout the province. In makeshift camps along the railway line, many unemployed Chinese endured extreme deprivation and malnutrition for months. Fleeing such conditions, those who had sufficient savings sailed home to China; many others crowded into B.C.'s few Chinatowns, seeking life's necessities from their fellow countrymen. It was during these difficult times that a number of enterprising Chinese crossed through the easternmost mountains to seek a new life in the North-West Territories, present day Alberta.

For more information on the life of Chinese settlers in Alberta, visit Alberta: Home, Home on the Plains.