Realizing that the Head Tax would not discourage the Chinese from coming to Canada, the federal government in 1923 passed the infamous Chinese Immigration Act, commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act in an attempt to stop the flow of immigrants into the country.
With the exception of diplomats, businessmen, students and rare special cases, Chinese were banned from entering the country. During the time that the Exclusion Act was in effect, Canada admitted only 20 Chinese people. As for the Chinese who were already living in Canada such as Old Wong, they had to report to the local authorities on a regular basis. Furthermore, they were not allowed to be absent from Canada for more than two years.
For the 24 years this Act was in effect, almost all Chinese immigration demands were refused, including those of the wives and children of the several thousand Chinese already in Canada. In 1931, there were about 46 000 Chinese in Canada, with a male/female ratio of 16:1, while in China, whole villages were inhabited by women only – those “widows” who had been so cruelly separated from their husbands in Canada.