In Search for the Lost Chinese Canadian Story: A Review and Research Note for The Diary of Dukesang Wong




chinese, historiography, human geography, immigration


This review and research note for The Diary of Dukesang Wong highlights its value as one of the extremely rare first-person records of Chinese workers on the CPR, and especially, as a comprehensive account of Wong’s personal experience and reflections on both sides of the Pacific and between Chinese and Western cultures in 1867-1918. The book is an extraordinary addition to both popular and academic publications on the history of modern China and Chinese Canadian history, but it is still limited by its selected translations of the original diary and its insufficient and sometimes incorrect commentaries. Thus, in this article, textual analysis of relevant historical sources brings new lights on Wong’s personal backgrounds, and rectifies some major factual errors in the translations and commentaries on his diary. A further examination of Chinese community documents and newspaper reports about Wong also complements the book with new information about his political activities, especially his leadership in anti-racism in Canada and anti-warlord politics in early Republican China. In view of the irretrievable loss of Wong’s original Chinese diary, an extremely rare and valuable historical treasure, this review and research ends with a request for community efforts to advance Chinese Canadian history by Chinese community organizations themselves.

Author Biography

Zhongping Chen, University of Victoria

Zhongping Chen is professor of Chinese history at the University of Victoria. He has research interests in environmental and socioeconomic history of China during the Little Ice Age (1400–1900), sociopolitical history of late Qing and early Republican China, and the history of the global Chinese diaspora. His publications include dozens of journal articles and four books in Chinese and English, one of which is the monograph Modern China’s Network Revolution: Chambers of Commerce and Sociopolitical Change in the Early Twentieth Century (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011). In addition to a forthcoming book, “From Reform to Revolution in the Transpacific Chinese Diaspora, 1898–1918,” he is working on a new book project, “The Rise and Reform of the Transpacific Chinese Diaspora, 1788–1898.” He has also started a five-year research project (2021–2026), “Human-Environment Interactions and Rural China’s Transition during the Little Ice Age, 1400–1900,” which is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.





Research Note