See below for a newstory from
The Sudbury Star.
By Laura Stradiotto/The Sudbury Star
Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 11:00
Local News - Gim Foon Wong has just finishing riding 1,000 km in the
last two days on his Gold Wind motorcycle.
“It’s a miracle we’re here,” said Wong, tired but alert after arriving
in Sudbury at 3 a.m. Friday.
The 82-year-old left Beacon Hill Park in Vancouver on June 3 and is
travelling across Canada in an effort to raise awareness about the Chinese
Head Tax and deliver a message to the Prime Minister.
His son, Jeff, is travelling behind in a 1979 Chev van with a handmade
wooden trailer that snapped in half in Winnipeg.
The father-son team is trying to get back on schedule in order to
arrive in Ottawa on Canada Day, the same day 82 years ago that the Canadian
government implemented the Chinese Exclusion Act, which stopped Chinese
immigration until it was repealed in 1947.
Wong, a World War Two airforce veteran, plans to dress in his old
uniform, drive up to Parliament in his motorcycle and hand over a petition
demanding a redress of the immigration tax.
Between 1881 and 1885, Chinese men were recruited overseas as a cheap
source of labour to perform some of the most dangerous jobs building the
Canadian Pacific Rail.
The Canadian government imposed a $50 head tax in 1885 and later
increased the fee to $500 — the equivalent of two years salary — in 1903.
Wong’s father had to pay the hefty fee, which could have bought two
houses in Vancouver’s Chinatown back then.
He borrowed money from his brothers and family back home, but was still
paying it back in the 1930s.
“During the Depression, people were poor, but they were twice as poor,”
said Jeff Wong.
The father-son team was greeted by Sudbury’s Chinese community, many of
whom have parents and relatives who paid the head tax.
Yew Lee’s father George, a long-time Sudbury restaurateur, was forced
to pay the tax.
George Lee, although now deceased, came to Sudbury in 1913 from Hoi
He had to borrow $500 from his family back home to be granted
“permission” to stay in the country.
“It was like having a mortgage to belong to this country,” said Yew Lee
“But you still couldn’t vote and you couldn’t go into public
His parents were separated for 14 years. Because of the Chinese
Exclusion Act, his mother Chow Quen Lee was not allowed into Canada until
Back in China, many women who were waiting for their husbands died of
starvation, said Lee.
“It’s a terrible history and a shame. There should be an apology.”
The Chinese Canadian National Council is one of Wong’s sponsors. The
council continues to seek a redress on behalf of the surviving head
taxpayers and their families and urges the Canadian government to negotiate
Click here for related stories about Gim Wong and Redress on this blog site.