The Chinese Imperial School
Chinese Men in front of School on Fisgard, 1901.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association created a Chinese School to provide approximately 100 Chinese children access to free education. The school was named the Le Qun School and was originally located in the CCBA building. Very few children attended public school, except in the instance of avoiding the head tax. Children were exempt from the $100 head tax, under the New Immigration Act of 1900, if they could prove that they had attended school in BC for at least one year. Some of the adolescent Chinese immigrants attended public school for one year to avoid the tax and then dropped out. However, some children did remain in the public schools, although a very small percentage.
The small percentage of Chinese children in the public schools angered parents of the white children. The majority of white families did not want their children in the same school as Chinese immigrants. They even “lodged a petition to the school board, requesting that the Chinese children be put in a separate school because they were unclean, untidy, depraved and illmannered, and had a demoralizing influence on the white children.”21 In April 1907, a ruling was made in Victoria that only children that could speak english could enter public schools. This meant that the majority of Chinese children had to pay the head tax, as they could not speak english and therefore not go to school. The rule changed when eight Chinese teenagers learned to speak English. They applied to attend public school, only to discover that the Victoria School Board changed the rules so that only native-born Chinese could attend public schools .22 Once this ruling was final, the CCBA worked to raise money from Chinese communities across Canada to create a new larger building for Le Qun School, in which all Chinese children could attend. Money was raised and the new Chinese Imperial School was opened on August 7, 1909 at 636 Fisgard Street.23