Mercantile Mobility

Mercantile Mobility: Chinese Merchants in Western Canada 

Curator: Helen Kwan Yee Cheung

Anticipated opening: May 2022

This exhibition takes you on a journey through time, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century, to explore what happened to Chinese immigrant workers after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which they helped build. The curator presents a new perspective on the history and contributions of Chinese immigrants in Canada by profiling those workers who started from the ground up to become merchants and considering how they progressed from mere survival to being successful as entrepreneurs. This exhibition examines the distinctive socio-economic landscape where this dynamic group carved out their own niche and quietly propelled the Canadian economy; it reveals how they helped to build communities through movements of products at the municipal, provincial, and global levels. Their business ventures are explored through rare archival documents and images collected over a decade by the curator through a community-based process and through the ongoing acquisition efforts of Bruce Peel Special Collections.