The Way of the Bachelor
248 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Jan 2012
Release Date:07 Mar 2011
Release Date:17 Feb 2011

The Way of the Bachelor

Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba

UBC Press

The lives of early Japanese and Chinese settlers in British Columbia have come to define the Asian experience in Canada. Yet many Chinese men did not seek their destiny on British Columbia, but followed the railway east, settling in small Prairie towns and cities.

The Way of the Bachelor documents the religious beliefs and cultural practices that sustained and leant meaning to Chinese bachelors in Manitoba. In the absence of women and family, these men opened the region’s first laundries and, by the turn of the twentieth century, developed a new kind of restaurant – the Chinese cafe. They maintained their ties to the Old World and negotiated a place for themselves in the new through a process called Dao – the way of the bachelor. At cafes and restaurants, churches and Christians associations, and the offices of the Chinese Nationalist Party, bachelors fostered a vibrant homosocial culture based on friendship, everyday religious practices, the example of Sun Yat-sen, and the sharing of food.

This fascinating exploration of the intersection of gender, migration, and religion in small Prairie towns and cities broadens our understanding of the Chinese quest for identity in North America. With a Foreword by the Honourable Inky Mark, former Member of Parliament for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette.

The book will appeal to Chinese immigrant communities and to students and scholars of Asian Canadian studies, ethnic history, religious history, and gender studies.


  • 2011, Winner - Manitoba Day Award, Association for Manitoba Archives
  • 2015, Winner - Canadian Society for the Study of Religion First Book Prize
The Way of the Bachelor is a beautiful, deeply moving portrait of the lived experience of Chinese immigrants in Manitoba. Through carefully nuanced historical and ethnographic analyses, Marshall explores the everyday practices and rituals through which these immigrants defined and transformed their relationships to each other and their community. Her book opens up a host of new perspectives on Chinese religions in practice and on the immigrant experience. Michael Puett, author of To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China
The Way of the Bachelor enriches our understanding of the Chinese immigrant experience by drawing attention to the life of these new Canadians outside of coastal areas or large urban centres. The harsh environment of the prairies and the paucity of population provided a unique social context for Chinese immigrants. Marshall provides an intimate and moving portrayal of the lives of these individuals, drawing on local newspapers, interviews, and various archival materials. Her book will be appreciated by scholars, while being very accessible to students and general readers. Paul Crowe, Director, David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University
Alison R. Marshall is an associate professor in the Department of Religion at Brandon University.


1 Christianity and the Manitoba Kuomintang

2 The Western Manitoba Laundry

3 The Western Manitoba Restaurant

4 Chinese Food and Identity

5 The Religion of Chinese Manitobans and KMT Confucianism





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