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In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
Chinese cannery workers, smoking during a break
Chinese cannery workers at Imperial cannery, smoking during a break. Circa 1913.
Vancouver Public Library 2101
Chinese cannery workers, smoking during a break

Chinese in the Industry

British Columbia's salmon canning industry would never have succeeded without the contribution of Chinese workers.

The first Chinese immigrants in British Columbia were attracted by the gold rush of 1858. The majority were single young men in their twenties, hoping to make good money and return home. Many worked in mining, some worked as labourers, some were vegetable farmers, and others worked in restaurants and laundries. In the 1870s, over 17,000 Chinese workers were employed to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway. By the mid- 1880s, many of these same men were looking for new work, just as the canneries being built in Steveston were looking for labourers.

To learn more about the history of Chinese in the industry click here.

To learn more about the work that Chinese people did in the industry click here.

To learn about how Chinese people lived at the canneries click here.

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