From 1885 to 1923, the Canadian government imposed Head Taxes on Chinese immigrants. During the first year, the tax was $50. By 1900 it had doubled, and in 1903 it went up to $500. In 38 years, a total of 23 million dollars was collected from 81,000 Chinese immigrants. At that time, it represented a great deal of money; it would be enough to even fund the building of another Canadian Pacific Railway.
When Old Wong’s son, Wong Junior, finally arrived in Canada, Old Wong was shocked at his appearance.
Old Wong: “Why do you look so pale … so thin?”
Wong Junior: “That’s what six months in a detention centre will do to you too, dad…”
Old Wong: “What happened there?”
Wong Junior: “It’s like a prison … with high walls and steel gates. We were four huddled in a small and dark room. The food … the food was like pigwash.”
Old Wong: “Ah, that is why these centers are called pigsties…”
Wong Junior: “But I was lucky enough to have passed the inspections, dad –Little Tiger, who came from the same region as us, was sent back to China … and Old Wu’s wife killed herself…It’s so sad!”