Although Old Wong and his friends tried hard to fit in, they often ran into challenges from local Whites. In 1918, Whites Retailers and Media demanded that the authorities stop granting business permits to Chinese laundromats and restaurants in white resident areas.
Old Chow had by this time learned a little English; he opened a grocery store in a white residential area. His son had a farm on which he grew vegetables, which were then sold in his father’s store.
Business was good at first, because the products were fresh and cheap. But soon enough, Old Chow started running into trouble when white Canadians demanded the municipal government impose a $100 license fee on all Chinese stores located in the White residential areas – while white owned stores would only have to pay $10 for their licenses.
“Oriental stores should only be allowed in Oriental areas,” said a Vancouver mayoral candidate.
“We are going to have to fight for our survival,” said Old Chow.
Old Wong agreed: “It’s too unfair. We should get organized to have a greater impact.”
In 1918, thousands of Chinese Canadians participated in protest marches.