Cultivating Connections: The Making of Chinese Prairie Canada

Wed, 17 Sep 2014

Date: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Time: 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m  

Fairmont Social Lounge
UBC St. John's College

Please register here

About the Book

In the late 1870s, thousands of Chinese men left coastal British Columbia and the western United States and headed east. For these men, the Prairies were a land of opportunity; there, they could open shops and potentially earn enough money to become merchants. Cultivating Connections looks at the organizations, relationships, and ties on which these men and their wives depended for sustenance.

The result of almost a decade's research and more than three hundred interviews, Cultivating Connections tells the stories of some of Prairie Canada's Chinese settlers -- men and women from various generations who navigated cultural difference. These stories reveal the critical importance of networks within these communities, showing how the less connected were more likely to experience racism, and identifying how a sense of belonging varied according to affiliations and practices, including merchant, labouring, nationalist, Confucian, Christian, Buddhist, or Daoist.

An important addition to a literature that has tended to examine large coastal Chinese settlements, this book serves as a remarkable record of the voices of some of the Prairies’ most resilient and resourceful pioneers.

About the Author

Alison R. Marshall is a professor in the Department of Religion at Brandon University and an adjunct professor of women's and gender studies at the University of Winnipeg. She is the author of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba


"Cultivating Connections is a major breakthrough in the research of social history. Combining years of careful documentary research, including a thorough canvass of available English and Chinese sources, with an oral history component arising from years of involvement in Prairie Chinese communities, Marshall has gained access to valuable networks of relationships. I recommend her book highly."

-- Timothy J. Stanley, author of Contesting White Supremacy: School Segregation, Anti-Racism, and the Making of Chinese Canadians

"In Cultivating Connections, Marshall has created a remarkably intimate and moving portrayal of the lives of Chinese Canadian settlers and, through that intimacy, draws out the nuances of relationships that helped them negotiate often hostile circumstances. Written in a very approachable style and full of personal stories, her book will interest a broad readership."

-- Paul Crowe, Director of the David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University