Meet Lee Sing Yen

Been at 8th and Columbia Streets lately? Next time, you are… look up!

100 years ago, the Canadian government passed the last law in a series of racist acts directed at Chinese immigrants. The first act in 1885 introduced a head tax of $50 for every Chinese immigrant. Subsequent amendments increased the cost of the head tax until it reached $500 in 1903. The last amendment made in 1923 effectively closed the door to Chinese immigration to Canada. It was not repealed until 1947.

To memorialize the passage of the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act, we present the exhibit “Meet Lee Sing Yen”. Using archival documents we are able to give a name to this long-time New Westminster resident. Lee Sing Yen was one of the thousands of ordinary Chinese Canadians whose life was shaped by racist and exclusionary laws known as the Chinese Immigration Acts. As we reflect on the significance of this year to Canadian history, it is important to share the story of this man who would otherwise have been lost to history.

“The text of the exhibit is available in traditional and simplified Chinese”

This window display is one part of the exhibit and was installed from inside the museum. The full exhibit is inside the galleries on the 3rd floor of Anvil Centre (main entrance along Columbia St around the corner).