In 1788, the first Chinese people emigrated to the town of Nootka Sound in Canada. They were a group of 50 artisans, who helped build a trading post with the purpose of trading sea otter pelts. The Spanish drove out the leader of the Chinese expedition, Captain John Meares, but some of the Chinese immigrants remained.
The emigration of Chinese during the 19th century was due to wars and rebellions that forced many Chinese people to flee their country. In 1858, Chinese gold prospectors migrated from San Francisco to the Fraser River valley, and Barkerville, the first Chinese community, was established. Chinese people from rural southern China began traveling to British Columbia and Vancouver Island, and by 1860 there were nearly 7,000 Chinese immigrants living in these two regions.
Between 1880 and 1885, Chinese immigrants worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway under terrible conditions. More than 600 Chinese people died during the construction. When the railway system was completed, the Chinese people were able to form communities all over Canada. There were over 17,000 Chinese immigrants living in Canada by the turn of the 20th century.
On July 1, 1923, Canadian Parliament passed a legislative act that effectively banned most Asian people from entering the country. Some people refer to this date as Humiliation Day. In 1947 the act was repealed. By 2011 there were over a million Chinese people living in Canada.