Immigration has been an important factor of population growth in Canada. Between the years of 1851 to 1996 over 13.5 million immigrants entered Canada (see.
Appendix 1), mostly from Western Europe and Great Britain (Grindstaff, 1998:435). The number of immigrants admitted into Canada is regulated by Canadian Immigration Act and its policies, which are, in turn, regulated by federal and provincial governments (Jackson & Jackson, 1998: 86).
Historically, early Canadian immigration policies were largely discriminative; thus immigration policies and regulations have changed, mostly to eliminate explicit.
discrimination on the basis of race or nationality.
The first Immigration Act was established in 1869, when the British North American Act gave the responsibility of immigration to federal and provincial governments. This immigration act did not have any specific rules and regulations about who can or who cannot enter and live in Canada. Thus, between the years of 1869 to 1895 1.5 million people immigrated to Canada (Kubat, 1993:25). These new settlers were mostly British labourers, eastern European peasants, and American farmers (Jackson & Jackson, 1898: 86). However, between the years of 1881 and 1884 about 15,701 Chinese labourers entered Canada, most of them as a "cheap labourers" for the construction of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
Knowles (1997:50) also points out that "without these Chinese labourers the construction and completion of the CPR would have been postponed indefinitely." Yet,.
because the Canadian federal government favoured "white" British, American, and Northern Europeans immigrants, "non-white" immigrants, Chinese particularly, were no longer welcomed in Canada. Thus, upon the completion of the CPR, a new act was passed in 1885 "to restrict and regulate Chinese immigration" (Knowles, 1997:50). This new policy did not prohibit the Chinese from entering Canada; yet the Chinese.