Monday, January 15, 2007

Indians of Hong Kong Emigrating to Canada

Well, it has been awhile hasn't it! I've been away in the US, and was actually on a farm that had no Internet connections. Hard to believe, but in a way, incredibly restful over the holiday. I also became incredibly restive, but that's another story!

I thought I'd kick off the New Year by looking at an astonishing notice in the Hong Kong (or should I say Hongkong) Government Gazette 100 years ago. It concerns what was then a new trend of Indians from both India but also from Hong Kong, embarking on new lives in the New World, specifically in the British provinces of Canada. This surely is a remarkable chapter in the history of Indian immigration to Canada:
Natives of India are hereby warned against emigrating to Canada. The winter climate of the interior of Canada is such that Indians, with their style of living, cannot work there during the season and are therefore restricted for winter employment to the coast where there is not a sufficient field for those already there. In any case the work for which they are required is, if obtainable, rough and hard and not of a character with which they are familiar or for which they are physically fitted.

Large number [sic] of Indian immigrants have already become destitute, and it is useless for any more Indians to seek employment in Canada.

F.H. May,
Colonial Secretary [later the Governor of Hong Kong after Gov. Lugard]

12 February, 1907
The many Indian natives of Canada, particularly in Toronto, would find this a laughable suggestion that Indian industry could only be confined to manual labour for which they are not 'physically fitted.'