Albertans of Chinese ancestry have a rich history and heritage in the province.
Key in building the
transcontinental railway, many Chinese labourers lost their lives in the
work of linking the nation by rail. Chinese Albertans quite literally helped to build this province from its very beginnings.
Many early Chinese settlers left their homelands because of overpopulation
or lack of economic opportunity. Upon their arrival
many of the same obstacles as other settlers in western Canada
including language barriers and racial discrimination. Most were
not permitted to work in the professional sector and instead had
to find work as launderers, storekeepers, personal servants, or
houseboys. These limited opportunities meant that Chinese settlers
gravitated towards the larger, urban centres where they could find
work. In larger cities, such
as Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, certain sections of these
cities were predominantly inhabited by people of Chinese or Asian
background known as Chinatowns. These Chinatowns were born
out of both a societal
prejudice and a desire, on behalf of the Chinese settlers to create familiar
communities in a very unfamiliar new homeland.
Today, Albertans of Chinese ancestry are prominent in many
communities. The Chinese community and culture, with its great
diversity, is very much a living part of Alberta through their festivals, traditions,
professional and business contributions and cuisine.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.