Vancouver anti-Chinese riots, 1886

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The Vancouver anti-Chinese riots of 1886, sometimes called the Winter Riots because of the time of year they took place, were prompted by the engagement of cheap Chinese labour by the Canadian Pacific Railway to clear Vancouver's West End of large Douglas fir trees and stumps, passing over the thousands of unemployed men from the rest of Canada who had arrived looking for work.

In November 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway was finished and thus laid off thousands of who were thus stranded in Southern British Columbia—some went to the Cariboo in search of gold, some went to San Francisco, while others came to Vancouver.

In January 1886 Chinese workers were camped on the shore of Vancouver Harbour, near the present north end of Burrard Street. Chinese were hired to clear the trees and stumps then still standing in Vancouver's West End, at the usual much lower rate paid to Chinese labour. In January 1886, an angry mob of whites, who had been unemployed and hungry for weeks with no work and angered that potentially-available employment and payscales were undercut by Chinese labour, stormed the Chinese camp in the West End at night, then camped in their tents. Many were injured, and some fled into the icy sea to escape their assailants.

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