The Oriental Question
344 pages, 6 x 9
16 b&w photos
Release Date:01 Jul 2004
Release Date:12 Nov 2003
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

The Oriental Question

Consolidating a White Man's Province, 1914-41

UBC Press

Patricia Roy’s latest book, The Oriental Question, continues her study into why British Columbians – and many Canadians from outside the province – were historically so opposed to Asian immigration. Drawing on contemporary press and government reports and individual correspondence and memoirs, Roy shows how British Columbians consolidated a “white man’s province” from 1914 to 1941 by securing a virtual end to Asian immigration and placing stringent legal restrictions on Asian competition in the major industries of lumber and fishing. While its emphasis is on political action and politicians, the book also examines the popular pressure for such practices and gives some attention to the reactions of those most affected: the province’s Chinese and Japanese residents.

The Oriental Question is a critical investigation of a troubling period in Canadian history. It will be of vital interest to scholars of British Columbian and Canadian history and politics and of Asian, diaspora, ethnicity, and immigration studies.


  • 2013, Winner - Patricia E. Roy is the recipient of the Canadian Historical Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for 2013.
This complex and meticulous study will reward an attentive reader. It is an admirable contribution to the historiography of British Columbia and Canada. Hilary K. Blair, The International History Review
A finely textured account that convincingly show that while anti-Asian racism was never a monolith, it became consolidated in the image of British Columbia as a ‘White Man’s province’ during this era ... the significance of this work is that, like the earlier volume, it catalogues English-language anti-Asian discourse in British Columbia. As such it is an invaluable reference for students of racism and of British Columbia’s history. Timothy J. Stanley, University of Ottawa, Labour/Le Travail, Issue 58, Fall 2005
The Oriental Question is a solid empirical work, using government records, contemporary newspapers, memoirs, and secondary literature. It would be a highly usefu monograph for an undergraduate audience, since it brings together a broad range of information in a readable and congently argued style. Bonnie Huskins and Michael Boudreau, Canadian Literature, Issue 186, Autumn 2005
Roy's careful attention to political contest and compromise gives us a rich portrait of how British Columbia consolidated around white supremacy ... These books are important empirical studies that will ultimately allow us to understand how migration and regional identities are framed in local and global terms. Henry Yu, University of British Columbia, Pacific Historical Review, vol. 75, no. 2, 2006
Patricia E. Roy is a professor in the Department of History, University of Victoria. The Oriental Question follows her 1989 groundbreaking work, A White Man’s Province, which covered the period 1858-1914. The third volume, The Triumph of Citizenship, takes the story from the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941 to the removal, in 1967, of the last barriers to “first class citizenship” for Canadians of Chinese and Japanese origin.



1 “The least said, the better”: The War Years, 1914-18

2 “We Could Never Be Welded Together”: The Inassimilability Question, 1914-30

3 “Putting the Pacific Ocean Between Them”: Halting Immigration, 1919-29

4 “Shoving the Oriental Around”: Checking Economic Competition, 1919-30

5 “A Problem of Our Own Peoples”: An Interlude of Apparent Toleration, 1930-38

6. Inflaming the Coast: The “Menace” from Japan, 1919-41

7 “Poisoned by Politics”: The Danger Within, 1935-41




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