In this series, I have focused on one Chinese Case file as the source material and applied an intensive analysis to the correspondence. My advice to all those who have acquired one or more Case Files: Go slowly. Take your time processing. Write a story.
When I reflect on this story about George Sing's ten year battle to bring his sons Gee and Get to Saskatchewan set against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War where twenty million Chinese died, I'm reminded of another sorry tale in Canadian immigration history. A high-level immigration official, when asked how many Jews should be admitted to Canada during the Second World War, said, “None is too many.” This xenophobic quote has been ascribed to Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King and Immigration Director Frederick Blair and is probably neither but shows the attitude at the highest levels of government. Canadian Immigration, helmed by Blair, was deaf to the pleas of Canadians desperate to shelter their relatives living under the threat of war and too many died as a result of his "careful control" of Canada's borders.
In this post I'd like to talk about navigating a "common record" set - voters lists - when the population was disenfranchised. There's an assumption in genealogy of "common records." Voters Lists fall in this category, along with censuses, vital records, and city directories. Chinese, Japanese, South Asians, and Indigenous were disenfranchised for decades, meaning that entire record sets that would generally be available for others have gaps for these groups. Knowing when this does and does not apply is important work for a genealogist.
Once you're on site, my best tip for getting the most out of an archives visit is asking for a quick tour. Most times the archivist will ask you what area, subject, or time frame you're researching. They will also show you how to fill out a record retrieval slip and while I am an experienced researcher, I always appreciate the reminders. Every archive follows archival best practises, which means...
A case study for finding people on the General Register of Chinese Immigration 1885-1949
My podcast interview on Research Like a Pro, with hosts Nicole Dyer and Diana Elder, released March 1, 2021.
[Updated 6 May 2023] When I was young, I found my father's Chinese Immigration certificate in his desk. I was confused: I knew he was born in Vancouver, BC, Canada, but the document said Department of Immigration and Colonization. Was he an immigrant? Why was he an immigrant? For pity's sake, my grandfather was born… Continue reading Do you have a Chinese Immigration certificate?
Come with me as I look at the exact wording of the disenfranchising laws for the Chinese from 1872-1948, including 16 links to finding original Acts and legislation in Canada.
In this blog, I explore the finding aids for Chinese Immigration Act Case files at Library and Archives Canada
Ancestry Canada invited me to give a webinar on Chinese genealogy on April 21, 2020 on Facebook Live. For those who may have missed it, or for those who had trouble accessing the site, here you are. I can't think of a better way to kick off Asian Heritage Month. In this webinar, you will… Continue reading Webinar: Exploring Chinese genealogy on Ancestry