Cultivating Connections
288 pages, 6 x 9
33 b&w photographs, 3 line art, 1 map
Release Date:15 Jan 2015
Release Date:18 Jun 2014
Release Date:18 Jun 2014

Cultivating Connections

The Making of Chinese Prairie Canada

UBC Press

In the late 1870s, thousands of Chinese men left coastal British Columbia and the western United States and headed east. For these men, the Prairies were a land of opportunity; there, they could open shops and potentially earn enough money to become merchants. Cultivating Connections looks at the organizations, relationships, and ties on which these men and their wives depended for sustenance. The result of almost a decade's research and more than three hundred interviews, Cultivating Connections tells the stories of some of Prairie Canada's Chinese settlers – men and women from various generations who navigated cultural difference. These stories reveal the critical importance of networks within these communities, showing how the less connected were more likely to experience racism, and identifying how a sense of belonging varied according to affiliations and practices, including merchant, labouring, nationalist, Confucian, Christian, Buddhist, or Daoist. An important addition to a literature that has tended to examine large coastal Chinese settlements, this book serves as a remarkable record of the voices of some of the Prairies’ most resilient and resourceful pioneers.

This book will interest Canadian historians, particularly those studying the Canadian Prairies or Chinese Canadian migration and settlement.

Cultivating Connections provides a nuanced analysis of the gendered and racial experiences of Chinese Prairie Canadians and is an excellent contribution to the literature on the history of immigration and migration, social geography, and women’s history. Cayley B. Bower, University of Western Ontario, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 29 No. 1, Spring 2016
Cultivating Connections is a major breakthrough in the research of social history. Combining years of careful documentary research, including a thorough canvass of available English and Chinese sources, with an oral history component arising from years of involvement in Prairie Chinese communities, Marshall has gained access to valuable networks of relationships. I recommend her book highly. Timothy J. Stanley, author of Contesting White Supremacy: School Segregation, Anti-Racism, and the Making of Chinese Canadians
In Cultivating Connections, Marshall has created a remarkably intimate and moving portrayal of the lives of Chinese Canadian settlers and, through that intimacy, draws out the nuances of relationships that helped them negotiate often hostile circumstances. Written in a very approachable style and full of personal stories, her book will interest a broad readership. Paul Crowe, Director of the David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University
Alison R. Marshall is a professor in the Department of Religion at Brandon University and adjunct professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Winnipeg. She is the author of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba, recipient of the 2011 Manitoba Day Award, Association for Manitoba Archives.


1 Affective Regimes, Nationalism, and the KMT

2 Reverend Ma Seung

3 Bachelor Uncles: Frank Chan and Sam Dong

4 Affect through Sports: Mark Ki and Happy Young

5 Married Nationalists: Charles Yee and Charlie Foo

6 Women beyond the Frame

7 Early Chinese Prairie Wives

8 Quongying’s Coins and Sword

9 Chinese Prairie Daughters


Appendix; Notes; Glossary; Bibliography; Index

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