From China to Canada: A History of the Chinese Communities in Canada


369 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7710-2241-7




Edited by Edgar Wickberg
Reviewed by F. Quei Quo

F. Quei Quo is a political science professor at Simon Fraser University.


This long-awaited volume on the history of the Chinese Canadians grew out of the Multiculturalism Project on History of various ethnic groups in Canada. The research was conducted by the Con brothers, Harry and Roy, and three University of British Columbia professors, Johnson, Wickberg, and Willmott (the last now at New Zealand). It draws, however, upon a considerable number of works done by others in various forms. It covers the entire history of Chinese immigration to Canada from the very outset to the 1970s.

The authors claim that they have “attempted to present a view of Chinese-Canadian history from what is at least in part a Chinese perspective”; yet it seems a little too late as many of the old generation Chinese are now dead. Thus, for the most part the book relies more on written documents than on oral records. The Chinese perspective of their history in Canada is further complicated by the influx of new immigrants from places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Southeast Asian countries.

The authors conclude that the change in the Canadian immigration policy since the mid-60s has changed the nature of Chinese community in Canada. Indeed, it is even difficult to say that there is a Chinese community as such. Since there are many roads “from China to Canada” — via Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, via various types of visas initially — there are various Chinese communities in Canada nowadays.

The volume, therefore, should be valued more for its tracing of the changes rather than recording of the past. In this respect the book is highly recommended for the public, as they are the ones who must be saved from the stereotype image of the Chinese in this country. Especially important is the lesson that the immigration policy itself should be responsible, at least mainly if not totally, for the success or failure in the making of new Canadians.


“From China to Canada: A History of the Chinese Communities in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,