Marriage, Morals, and Men: Re/defining Victoria’s Chinese Rescue Home

  • Shelly Dee Ikebuchi Okanagan College
Keywords: History, religion, gender, moral regulation, Chinese, missions, Japanese, Methodist Woman's Misisonary Society, Victoria, women


During the late 19th and early 20th century in Victoria, British Columbia, the Chinese Rescue Home was envisioned as a sanctuary for Chinese and Japanese women who were thought to be either ‘prostitutes’ or 'slave girls' or who were believed to be at risk of falling into these roles. Missionaries, the state, and civil society helped to define the types of domestic relations that were possible inside of the Home. In this paper I focus on relationships that were forged outside of the Home.  Judges, police officers, and the public drew upon domestic discourses in their regulation of female ‘foreign’ bodies within the Home, but they also drew on these same discourses to discipline those outside of the Home. This paper examines a high profile kidnapping case to highlight the ways that discourses of domesticity and female moral authority were activated when white men dared to encroach upon the domestic domain.