Greetings from Spockgirl Musings, where logic rules, but the frailties of
human nature, genetic inadequacies and hormonal imbalances wreak havoc.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A White Man's Province

I finally finished reading "A White Man's Province - British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants" by Patricia E. Roy. All I have to say is give me books on philosophy, give me religious texts..... heck, I would have read Sartre in French instead, if I had known how irksome this book would be. I wasn't bothered by the reprinting of racist comics and poems from the 1900s, or the racist comments made by politicians and journalists of the time, as much as the author's writing style, which seemed to lack continuity and timeline in subject matter, jumping from one year's events forward, then back and forth through different years in more than one chapter. Often it appeared to me that quotes were re-quoted in further chapters as was other content. There also seemed to be a lot of generalizations made by the author, not just the generalizations made at the time about the Chinese and Japanese immigrants themselves.

It is apparent that there is not a lot of commentary available on the Japanese people who were in the province at the end of the 19th and into the 20th century... but it is known that their numbers were considerably less than the Chinese (data provided in the Appendix). I had to chuckle to myself when on Page 232 the author states: "So different were the attitudes towards Chinese and Japanese immigration and their home countries that it is advisable to examine the two matters separately." One would think that upon determining this fact in her research, being fairly extensive, that she would have published a slightly different book.

And.... sadly, it would appear that the author does not fully understand the meaning of racism, for all her good intent. "The campaign for a "white man's province" though blatantly racist in appearance, was, in fact, a catch phrase that covered a wide variety of concerns and transcended particular economic interests." Can you say.....racism?

This is my first critical review of a book on my blog, and I may be totally off-base, however, regardless of my opinion, I still recommend it to anyone interested in.... well.... racism in British Columbia history.


DaveO said...

There's nothing worse than a writing style resembling choppy waves. One gets seasick and abandons the effort before landing a mackerel.

Did Canada inter its citizens, immigrants, and visitors of Japanese-descent?

How did the experiences of, and toward Canadians of Chinese and Japanese ancestry compare to the experiences of, and toward the aboriginals?

An odd, stray memory from several years ago: when the Vingt-Deuxs replaced the RCR, our liaison (being we were primarily from Texas and Oklahoma) was a Canadian officer of Chinese descent from Vancouver.

Now, I was under the impression that one selects their unit based on wanting to stay in a particular region. The young lieutenant affirmed that, but wanted to see Quebec.

The memory is he and I laughing at my response: 'Regrettez-vous votre d├ęcision?' Or words to that affect.

Spockgirl said...

I just figured the writing in this type of book should be more linear.


All slightly different due to varying attitudes of white western Europeans towards other ethnic groups or people of colour.

Interesting... you wrote "Vingt-Deuxs" instead of the anglicized more common "Van Doos".

And... I'm not surprised about the young Lt wanting to see Quebec.

On the blog, perhaps of interest to you, perhaps not: "I am Canadian" and "Perspective".

DaveO said...

Currently listening to Flogging Molly.

I expected an emo-esque punk. I get... Irish rockabilly?

Like this song "Worst Day Since Yesterday." May have to make that my theme song.

Will look up the two posts you recommended. LOL

DaveO said...


I can not find your post on "Perspective."

From all your posts on whipped cream, I detoured to "Whipped Cream" by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, through Mancini, and now to Bizet's "Aragonaise."

I'm not so much in to heavy metal tonight as weighty brass.

Spockgirl said...

Hmmm... The "Search Me" button should have worked on finding the post called Perspective.

Haven't heard ANYONE I know EVER mention listening to Herb Alpert... I have one CD from eons ago. As for Bizet... I was rather fond of "Les Pecheurs de Perles", but can only recall bits of it. "Je Crois" stands out in my mind.

DaveO said...


NO ONE has heard of Herb Alpert & TJB?

Guess that sets me apart.

And the doc said I could lower my dose. Geez...