Enduring Hardship

The Chinese Laundry in Canada

Author/Illustrator/Editor: Ban Seng Hoe

Faced with systematic discrimination in Canada, early Chinese immigrants had little choice but to create their own economic niche. From the turn of the twentieth century through the Second World War, a majority of Canada’s Chinese immigrants were laundry workers in towns and cities from coast to coast. Although the hand laundry was not a traditional trade in China, laundry work required little capital, and could be performed despite a lack of familiarity with Western languages and financial systems. The hours were long, the work was physically demanding, and most chinese laundry workers lived a marginal existence - as poignantly evoked in this important new work. With the advent of modern laundry equipment and synthetic fibres in the 1950s, and the aging of the laundrymen themselves, the chinese hand laundry came to an end. To generations of Chinese-Canadians, however, it remains a symbol of hard work, sacrifice and enduring hardship.

Canadian Museum of History
DateISBNBISAC CodeThemaRights available
EnglishPaperback / softback6.8 in x 9.5 in19.9586