Aidan Crowe

My Diary by Aidan (Siu Wing 兆榮) Crowe

January 25th 1911

My name is Long Ying-Chu (梁應柱) but people in my village call me Long Lum (梁林). I am 22 years old and I have just arrived in Canada to seek my fortune. This is my diary.

I arrived in Canada today after a very long and uncomfortable journey across the Pacific that took more than a month. What seemed like months ago now, I had journeyed from my home county of Hoiping in Guangdong to the port in Hong Kong where we boarded a large commercial steam ship. The ship I was on carried hundreds of passengers and goods destined for Canada. I had very little money and could only afford the cheapest ticket, which meant being crowded into steerage in the bottom of the ship with several hundred other passengers.

At long last our ship was docked. We were all excited; beginning a new life in Canada was a dream to most people in China. As I exited the ship onto the dock I smelled the fresh sea air and moist forest scent which was a great contrast to the muggy, stuffy and sweat filled air I had endured in the boat.

Western men in uniform guided us all to a large immigration building. Upon entering we were informed that the place of our arrival was called Victoria. We had to listen to a speech from one of the officials and were then gathered in a single file leading up to a desk where a man took our names, date of birth, and location of birth and asked us to pay a head tax of $500. This was a huge sum of money most of which I had borrowed from a landlord in my village. I knew I would need to find a good job to pay back the money with interest.

January 26th 1911

After leaving the immigration centre a friend told me of a place in Chinatown called the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association where I could get advice on where to stay and to meet up with fellow clan members from the village.

Once I had arrived at the CCBA the people there gave me a meal, some survival tips and directions. The CCBA gave me directions to a rooming house in Chinatown where I would be able to stay for a few nights.

The first few days upon my arrival and staying at the rooming house were very hard as I could only speak very poor English and everywhere I went I would hear the white people snickering and jeering at me.

January 29th 1911
I am still living at the rooming house but today I received news from a fellow villager that he was working as a lumberjack in Kamloops, and that they had room for me to have a job there. Finally, a job!

January 30th 1911

So today is my big day. I took a ferry over to Vancouver where I then caught a train to a stop near Kamloops.

o I have arrived at the stop in Kamloops and I will go to find this lumberjack business named “Joe’s Lumberjacks.” I have heard from my friend through the letter he wrote me that at the logging camp where I will be working we will also get a place to stay as well as some small meals.

February 1 1911

Today is my first day of work. I should soon have the income to pay the rent for a small room in town. The money I brought with me from the village is quickly running out. Today at about noon I arrived at Joe’s Lumberjacks and Mr. Joe told me what to do, what tools to use, where to go and who would be my section leader.

I got suited up in a type of pants that are called “Denim Jeans” and a plaid button shirt. I went out into the forest feeling good, walking with my cutting blade the westerners call an “axe” and found my section leader Jerry. Now Jerry my section leader was not as nice as Mr. Joe, as he would call me names such as “chink” and “yellow one” and would always boss the group around.

In my section I made a few friends, there was Sing Lock, Fan Min and a black man named Jamal.

Working as a lumberjack was hard work. We had to cut down enormous trees and carry them back to the main work site where Jerry was constantly bossing us around.

March 15th 1913

I have not been to my diary lately as I have been very busy and working hard as a lumberjack.

Although being a lumberjack is very hard it is worth it as I have saved up quite a bit of money. Today some exciting news came my way. My brother sent me a letter saying that he had work for me in Carmengay helping him in his laundry business. I have almost done my work time as a lumberjack and next month I am going to leave for Alberta where I will stay with my brother in Carmengay and help him run his laundry. I know the work will be hard and the work days very long but I will be with my brother and feel like I really do have a home in this new country.

Epilogue

Long Ying-Chu moved to Alberta where he settled with his brother in the small town of Carmengay and worked in the laundry business. After the fifth year in Canada, Long Lum moved back to China for a year to take care of his children, mother and wife. After a year in China he returned to Canada for 5 years to make more money for his family in China. He repeated this cycle for 45 years, 36 of which were spent in Canada raising money for his family.


Photo: Long (Leong) Ying Chu and Wife (centre) with their two sons and daughter in-law.


Head Tax Certificate #01355: Shows arrival of Long Ying Chu (b. 1888) at Victoria BC on January 25, 1911 when he was 22 years old

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