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I am Canada : blood and iron : building the railway, Lee Heen-gwong, British Columbia, 1882

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  • Author: Yee, Paul

    Heen’s father and grandfather have brought their family in China to the brink of ruin with their gambling habits. To solve their money troubles, Heen and his father come to Canada to build the railway — a decision plagued by disaster. The living conditions provided for workers are wretched and work on the railway is excruciating. Transporting tons of gravel and working in tunnels about to be dynamited proves to be deadly for many of his co-workers. Soon the friction between the Chinese workers and the whites, who barely acknowledge these deaths, reaches a fevered pitch. As an added stress, Heen’s father has found some men to gamble with, which puts all of their earnings at risk. Heen’s only solace is his journal, where his chilling observations of the injustice and peril heaped upon the workers serve as an important testament to this dramatic era in Canadian history. Some 17,000 Chinese workers came to B.C. during the early 1880s; though not all stayed for the railway’s entire construction, they formed three-quarters of the workforce.

    Subject(s): Canada
    Original Publisher: Scholastic Canada
    Language(s): English
    ISBN: 9780545985932