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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

The Oriental Question

Consolidating a White Man’s Province, 1914-41

Patricia E. Roy is the winner of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, Canadian Historical Association.

Patricia Roy’s latest book, The Oriental Question, continues her study into why British Columbians – and many Canadians from outside the province – were historically so opposed to Asian immigration. Drawing on contemporary press and government reports and individual correspondence and memoirs, Roy shows how British Columbians consolidated a “white man’s province” from 1914 to 1941 by securing a virtual end to Asian immigration and placing stringent legal restrictions on Asian competition in the major industries of lumber and fishing. While its emphasis is on political action and politicians, the book also examines the popular pressure for such practices and gives some attention to the reactions of those most affected: the province’s Chinese and Japanese residents. It is a critical investigation of a troubling period in Canadian history.

344 pages

Table of Contents



1 “The least said, the better”: The War Years, 1914-18

2 “We Could Never Be Welded Together”: The Inassimilability Question, 1914-30

3 “Putting the Pacific Ocean Between Them”: Halting Immigration, 1919-29

4 “Shoving the Oriental Around”: Checking Economic Competition, 1919-30

5 “A Problem of Our Own Peoples”: An Interlude of Apparent Toleration, 1930-38

6. Inflaming the Coast: The “Menace” from Japan, 1919-41

7 “Poisoned by Politics”: The Danger Within, 1935-41




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