Historic Sites of Manitoba: Chinese Head Tax Monument (Municipal Cemetery, Brandon)

From 1885 to 1923, the Canadian government severely restricted and then effectively eliminated the immigration of Chinese people to Canada. A “head tax” of $50 for Chinese immigrants entering Canada was imposed effective 1 January 1886. The amount was increased to $100 in 1900, and to $500 in 1903. Between 1885 and 1924, 82,380 Chinese immigrants entering Canada paid $22.5 million in head taxes. The tax made it nearly impossible for Chinese men to bring their wives, children or parents to Canada. On 1 July 1923, called “Humiliation Day” by Chinese Canadians, a new Chinese Immigrant Act virtually excluded Chinese immigration to Canada, and legalized the inferior status of Chinese people already in the country. Special permits were allowed, but qualifications were so stringent that only eight Chinese immigrants were admitted to Canada between 1924 and 1946. Although the Act was repealed in May 1947, remaining restrictions on Chinese immigration were not removed completely until 1967. In June 2006, the Government of Canada apologized to Chinese Canadians for the head tax and exclusion legislation.

The monument in the Brandon Municipal Cemetery was commissioned by the Westman Chinese Association with financial support from the Government of Canada, Province of Manitoba, City of Brandon, Rotary Club of Brandon, Whitehead Foundation, and various private donors. Created by noted Manitoba sculptor Peter Sawatzky, the monument was unveiled during a ceremony on 26 June 2011.

Chinese Head Tax Monument

Chinese Head Tax Monument (June 2011)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.82092, W99.95510
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Municipal Cemetery (Eighteenth Street, Brandon)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act Plaque (Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg)


This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 August 2021

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