By 1858, the Gold Rush in California had petered out, making it necessary for the Chinese to follow the prospectors as they headed north to British Columbia. In the 1880s, thousands emigrated from China to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway.
All of the records kept by the federal government to document them as they came to Canada were gathered by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC). The Department of History of the University of British Columbia indexed them, and the original records have been digitized by the LAC.
There are over 98,361 references to Chinese immigrants in the records, covering the years 1885 to 1949.
When you put the name of the person you are looking for in the search engine, you will first see the name and age of the immigrant and the type of record - either from the General Registers of Chinese Immigration, the Port of New Westminster Register of Chinese Immigration, or the Newfoundland Register of Arrivals and Outward Registrations.
If you wish, you can click on the name of the immigrant, and the next page you will see is their serial number, date of registration, type of record, the reference number, the volume of the reference material, and the number of the microfilm.
Also on this page is a PDF file available of the immigrant, and if you go to it, you will see, for example, the General Registers of Chinese Immigration which will have what port they landed in Canada, where they came from in China, their physical description and remarks, among other genealogical information.
In 2006, Janet Tomkins—a librarian at the Vancouver Public Library on the west coast of Canada, where most of the Chinese people landed—launched the Chinese-Canadian Genealogy Website http://www.vpl.ca/ccg/index.html.
"The site acts as a portal to existing microfilm, print and electronic resources. Valued-added content describes key records and how to access them from a Chinese-Canadian genealogy perspective," Tomkins said.
So the site has on it the "Basics of Chinese Genealogy", "Chinese Names", "History and Pioneers", "Family Sources", "Documents and Records", and a "Back to China" section.
Given the backing of the Asian Heritage Society this year, a wiki called the "Chinese-Canadian History: Profiles from a Community" was started http://ccgwiki.vpl.ca.
Descendants from the Chinese immigrants are asked to go to the wiki, find the name that they are looking for from the list, and add their memories to the list, as well as photos.
So far, the response has been quite good, but Tomkins is always looking for more people to come on board to post to the wiki.
"It comprises individual profiles of almost 500 individuals included in the list (the immigration list), all born before 1900", said Tomkins. "It is a community of all Canadian-born persons of Chinese origin who registered under the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923".
In the 2001 Canadian census, there were over a million individuals of Chinese origin in Canada.