Chinese in Ranching

When the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, many Chinese who had been employed as railway workers settled in British Columbia and looked for meaningful employment.

A photograph of a Chinese cowboy beside his horse.Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

Chinese Cowboy. P1994.17.71 - Courtesy of the Quesnel Museum.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, numerous ranches in British Columbia took on Chinese labourers during haying and harvesting and for irrigating. As well, Chinese were frequently hired as cooks for the roundup outfits. Often these cooks proved capable and hard-working enough to be hired on by the large ranchers to cook for the home ranch.

A photograph of Chinese cooks at the O'Keefe Ranch. Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

Chinese cooks, Louie Wong and Fun at the O'Keefe Ranch. C-17 - Courtesy Historic O'Keefe Ranch

Although the Chinese rarely worked on horseback, a handful of Chinese ranch workers graduated to the job of cowboy and proved as indispensable at herding cattle as they were at cooking or general agricultural tasks. Eventually Chinese began to own their own ranches.