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Chinese Labour Shortage

Chinese men butcher fish inside a cannery. Salmon is piled on the floor by their feet.

Chinese men cutting fish at the Annieville Cannery, 1905. Image 1980-052-173 courtesy of the Delta Museum and Archives

A shortage of Chinese cannery labour in 1906 results from the increase in the Head Tax from $50 in 1885 to $500 in 1904 and the increasing number of canneries seeking Chinese workers. The shortage allows Chinese cannery crews to negotiate better wages, up to $65 per month. The combination of the labour shortage and increasing wages encourages canners to buy butchering machines that eliminate the need for human butchers, a position held by Chinese workers.

Blueprint diagram of a 1909 model iron butcher, with the words "1909 model 'iron-chink'" at the top and "When ordering parts for the machine, all that will be required will be to give the numbers as shown by the following list".

Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives.