Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Time: 12pm-2pm (Lunch provided)
Location: UC185. Senior Common Room. 15 King’s College Circle
Director of the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library, Jack Leong will be presenting his research on “The Hong Kong Connection for the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America” which is part of the Stanford University’s North American Chinese Railroad Workers Project http://web.stanford.edu/group/chineserailroad/cgi-bin/wordpress/.
Abstract of presentation:
“In the 1850s, the gold rush created a pacific pathway between North America and Hong Kong, which was already developing as a major gateway to Mainland China and other parts of Asia. Tens of thousands of Chinese merchants and gold seekers had been travelling across this marine highway. Previous research and studies on Hong Kong as a leading pacific gateway have been focusing on the gold rush period and other immigration phenomenon. Not much research has pinpointed Hong Kong’s role in serving as an entrepôt for the Chinese railroad workers who made irreplaceable contribution in building the transnational railroads in the United States and Canada. More importantly, these workers acted as intermediators for the material and cultural interactions between Asia and North America when they crossed the Pacific in both directions. Most, if not all, of the Chinese Railroad workers started their journey to North America from Hong Kong’s emigrant port. During the years of building the railroads, Hong Kong was the connecting point for most of the workers’ communications, remittances, goods, and sometimes the repatriation of bones between North American and their home towns in Southern China (Yip 2009). A study of Hong Kong’s role in bringing these workers, their letters, goods, money, and cultural translation across the Pacific would make a significant contribution to the studies of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America. Reviewing the archives, historical records and writings by people who recollected this period of Hong Kong’s history, this paper illustrates the port that these young men from Guangdong would have had encountered when they were there and en-route to North America.”