Coalition marks 120th anniversary of completion of Canada's first transcontinental railway


Media   Advisory: November 7, 2005


Coalition marks 120th anniversary of completion of Canada's first transcontinental railway

TORONTO. The   Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Payers
and Families (Ontario Coalition)   will host a commemoration
of the 120th anniversary of the completion of the   Canadian
Pacific Railway at 12:30 pm EST today at the Monument to the Chinese
Railroad Workers in Canada in Toronto.

“November 7, 2005 is a significant date in the history of Canada,” Doug
Hum, Co-Vice Chair of the Ontario Coalition said today, “It’s the 120th
anniversary   of the driving of the last spike in 1885 on
November 7th at Craigellachie, British Columbia which completed the
final railway link that joined Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Oceans.”

At this event, the   Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC)
will present the “Last Spike”, a “commemorative iron spike” received
from celebrated Canadian historian and author Pierre Berton before his
passing.  

Through this precious gift to   the CCNC, Mr. Berton
recognized the early Chinese contribution to the building  
of Canada. “We are pleased to have the support of the Teamsters Canada
Rail Conference,” Victor Wong, Executive Director of CCNC said today.
“The union shares a common history with
the Chinese men who helped Canada achieve its National Dream – a
railway linking the country from the Atlantic to the  
Pacific.”

To complete this final   link, the Government of Canada had to
recruit thousands of Chinese workers   mostly from Guangdong,
China when almost no one else could be found or were willing to do the
work. There was tremendous opposition to Chinese workers in British
Columbia at the time which prompted the first Prime Minister of Canada,
Sir John A. McDonald who being fearful that the completion of the
railway might be jeopardized,
to lash out at opposition to Chinese workers saying that, “either you must have this labour or you can't have this railway.”

“Immediately following   the last spike in 1885, the
Government of Canada in pandering to racist elements at the time,
slapped a head tax on all Chinese immigrants to Canada,” said Susan
Eng, Co-Chair of the Coalition.  “It began initially at $50, then
was raised to $100 in 1900 and finally to $500 in 1903.”  This
“Chinese Head Tax” failed to deter Chinese immigration which led the
Canadian Government to finally close the door on almost all Chinese
immigration by enacting the “Chinese Exclusion Act” in 1923 which was
not repealed until 1947.

To mark November 7th,   the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head
Tax Payers and Families is hosting a   commemoration of
Chinese railroad workers in Canada and a press conference
to   outline its plans for redress of the Head Tax and
Chinese Exclusion Act.  In attendance will be direct descendents
of the builders of the railway that helped to build Canada.

The Ontario Coalition   of Chinese Head Tax Payers and
Families consists of head tax payers, their   surviving
spouses and descendants.  They are joined in the campaign
for   Head Tax redress by the Chinese Canadian National
Council, the Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and
Solidarity Society, Metro Toronto Chinese   and South East
Asian Legal
Clinic, BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers Spouses and   Descendants, and other equality-seeking groups.

DATE:            Monday, November 7, 2005
TIME:             12:30 p.m. EST*
LOCATION:  The Monument to the Chinese Railroad
Workers in Canada at Blue Jays Way and Navy Wharf Ct. west of the dome stadium (Rogers Centre)

*The last spike was driven at 9:30 a.m. PST.

 -30-

For further   information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Doug Hum, Chinese Head   Tax Payers and Families, Toronto, (416) 706-7886

Victor Wong, Chinese   Canadian National Council, Toronto, (416) 977-9871

Sid Tan, BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers Spouses and Descendants, Vancouver, (604)   433-6169

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


six + 1 =