Katelyn Seto

Katelyn’s Family History

Great-grandparents and Family

Great Grandfather: Gan Seto
The Head Tax had to be paid from 1885 to 1923. That’s the Federal Tax for Chinese coming into Canada.

It wasn’t fair at all because it was only Chinese who had to pay. I think that was kind of biased because other races didn’t have to pay but only Chinese did.

They don’t speak English in Kaiping (Hoiping) China, so it was very hard for Great Grandfather to speak English when he came to Canada. It was very hard for him to communicate. He only had a little experience with English. It was very hard to learn English.

Great Grandfather came to Canada from China in 1916.

He did laundry for people. Great Grandfather worked at a restaurant after he did laundry. It’s very hard when he worked. He got very tired a lot.
In Bateman, Saskatchewan, Great Grandfather had a partnership with two people. They ran a restaurant called the American Café. In High River, Alberta, then he partnered with two other people to open the New Look Café.

Katelyn And Grandparents

Interview With Grandpa: Lim Seto
Also Interview With My Oldest Uncle

Exclusion Act started in 1923 and ended in 1947. There were so many Chinese paying Head Tax just to get into Canada, and it was flowing in so heavily, that they needed to make a law to stop them completely from coming in.

Even though if there was a father in Canada and his son is in China, once the Exclusion Act was there, they can’t, because that’s the law. So if you have any sons or daughters or any relatives, they aren’t going to come over because they passed the Exclusion Act. Grandpa had two sisters: one was older, one younger, and his mother. During Exclusion Act, Great Grandpa only went back to China a few times.
Japan and China had a big war when Grandpa was only eight years old. Grandpa says, “That time, Japanese war, my father can’t support- because you can’t mail money to China- the Japanese that time cut them off.” When his father was in Canada and he made money from the café, he couldn’t send money to China. This left them sometimes hungry and without food.

His mother went to the field and harvested rice. It was very hard work. When he was eleven years old, his mother gave him a little bit of money to open up a little sales stand and he sold little trinkets and little goods. Money was so tight. His father couldn’t send him any money from Canada. It was a hard time.

In the fields, they also grew watercress. He harvested all the watercress and then he wrapped them, and then washed them and sold them for very little profit.

When he was thirteen, he was having a very hard time, the war was still going on and his mother was very, very sick. His mother had a disease and she became very ill and passed away.

He started high school in Canton City. In high school he learned a little bit of English. He only had a little bit of English to use.

Grandpa came in 1950 to Canada. So that was after the Exclusion Act was repealed.

So when he learned English in Canada, he took grade seven again. Grandpa says, “The teacher put me in grade seven. I take a half season in grade seven.”

According to my Grandpa, when he came here, he said he didn’t want to take school. His dad let him go to the café and work. He washed dishes and also he helped the chefs prepare dishes- and helped them cook. He didn’t get paid for any dish washing or anything.
So my Grandpa took over Great Grandfather’s restaurant and he ran it, and it was called the New Look Café.

Interview With Second Uncle
My Second Uncle Says: “For us kids, we had to do a lot of work in the restaurant. I started dish washing in the restaurant when I was about ten. By the time I was eleven or twelve, I started cooking in the restaurant. I used to leave early at noon, five minutes. I go to the restaurant and cook during the rush hour. Then just eat and go back to class. Then after school, I work in the restaurant and then on the weekends. Sometime I used to get into trouble because I didn’t want to go to work. Sometimes I purposely got in trouble so I can stay in school- just stay after school.”

Interview With My Dad

Not to be too personal , but my dad said there was an older student who punched him for no reason. He was very mean to my dad. He always called him names.


For the Head Tax and the Exclusion Act, my conclusion is that our family had a very hard time and I think it was hard for most other Chinese families to get into Canada. Also it was very expensive- to get in for Head Tax was $50 to $500. The Exclusion Act was not fair. We had to work in restaurants to make money just to survive. I thank you for understanding how hard it was for my family.

My Background
My name is Katelyn Seto. I am ten years old. I live in Vancouver. I like to study history. I like to study Cantonese, Mandarin and other languages. I also play the piano.


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