Personal Story: Video Profile - James Pon

Head Tax Payer


Name: James Pon

Age: 88

Location: Toronto

Birthplace: China


[Part1] [Part2] [Part3] [Part4] [Part5]


James Pon came to Canada at the young age of 5 yrs old and has resided here for 83 years.  Pon has received the Order of Canada award from the Governor General for his contribution in designing Canadian military aircrafts during WWII.  The following tapes were recorded to share Ponís experiences as a Chinese head tax payer, reasons for immigration, and what he is personally asking from the Canadian Government.

Letter by Marilyn Mulldoon
Marilyn Mulldoon, Vancouver Sun
December 5, 2005

What in the name of logic and decency are the Ottawa Liberals thinking with respect to the Chinese Headtax proposal?

My children are of mixed racial parentage and their paternal grandfather, Doo Nam Wong, was one of the immigrants subjected to this racially motivated tax. Given no other ethnicity paid such a tax, was it not racial discrimination? The head tax was thinly-veiled contempt made even more despicable because it was legal.

Despite hefty fees, the immigrants came and worked. Many helped bring the railway through to BC and lived in workcamps where conditions were inhumane but still pressed on to live the Canadian Dream. During WW II many of the "head taxed" offered themselves or their service-aged children to stand up and fight for their new home.


THE ELECTION: Historical Redress National News
Head-tax debate heats up on hustings; Many Chinese Canadians wonder why Liberals won't apologize for past injustice

Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail
December 29, 2005

In the decades since Dick Chan became a Canadian citizen, his vote has gone to the Liberals. But that is about to change.

Mr. Chan says he lost faith in the party that has traditionally been seen as the ally of immigrant Canadians when, of all things, the government announced a plan to redress the historical injustice of the Chinese head tax.

In the dying days of the Liberal minority, Multiculturalism Minister Raymond Chan said the irritant would finally be resolved. A package of $2.5-million would be set aside to acknowledge that this country demanded hundreds of dollars from each Chinese immigrant who arrived between 1885 and 1923 - before immigration from China was effectively banned.


Chinese Head Tax: A Legacy of Suffering
Jim Tam, The National Post
Richmond Hill, Ontario
December 15, 2005

Re: 1885 Tax Becomes An Issue In 2006, Dec. 15.

As a nation that prides itself on social justice, Canada should clear its own national conscience and apologize to Chinese immigrants and their families for the racist head tax policy in place from 1885 to 1923.

It really sickened me when our Prime Minister lectured the United States on "global conscience" in the UN Conference on Climate Change while he has failed to clear our own national conscience in his own backyard.

My grandfather came to Canada in 1911, after paying his $500 head tax, a tax immigrants from other countries did not pay. This levy enriched the government coffers by $23-million by 1923, an equivalent of $1.2-billion in current dollar value.



Personal Stories
- Marilyn Mulldoon
- Jim Tam
- Dick Chan

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