'The Island of the Unclean': Race, Colonialism and 'Chinese Leprosy' in British Columbia, 1891 - 1924
Dr Renisa Mawani
Assistant Professor of Sociology,
Department of Anthropology and Sociology,
University of British Columbia,
This paper explores the links between race, health, and nation through the making of D'Arcy Island, Canada's first and only Chinese leper colony. Located in Haro Strait, off the coast of Vancouver Island, D'Arcy Island was established in 1891 and was operative until 1924. During this period, 49 men - mostly Chinese - were exiled to the Island. Banished indefinitely, the men spent their days waiting to be deported from Canada or to die, whichever came first. I use D'Arcy Island to examine how anxieties about hygiene, sanitation, and public health were tied up with ongoing local concerns about Chinese immigration and the protection of national borders. In particular, I explore how and why public health policies, immigration restrictions, and deportation practices came together in anxieties over and state initiated responses to leprosy. Ultimately, I address the ways in which a racialized Canadian national identity - as a white settler society - was imagined through these overlapping, legally mandated, and spatially articulated exclusionary practices.
Keywords: Race, Colonialism, National Identity, Disease, Immigration Law, Deportation
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the following conferences; Critical Race Scholarship and the University, University of Toronto, April 2002; and the Joint Meetings of the Canadian and American Law and Society Association, Vancouver BC, May 2002. For their useful comments on earlier drafts, I would like to thank Alison Bashford, Shelley Gavigan, Carolyn Strange, and the anonymous reviewers. I would also like to express my gratitude to Robert Menzies for his careful reading and insightful editorial and substantive comments on an earlier version of this paper, and to Wes Pue, for his comments, encouragement, and patience.
This is a refereed article published on 30 April 2003.
Citation: Mawani, R, ''The Island of the Unclean': Race, Colonialism and 'Chinese Leprosy' in British Columbia, 1891 - 1924', Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD) 2003 (1), <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/global/03-1/mawani.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/lgd/2003_1/mawani/>
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, health and hygiene became integral to the fabrication of a Canadian national identity1. During this period of nation formation in which a new Canadian citizen was being carefully fashioned, government authorities began problematising the health of the population as a political objective in need of intervention. At this crucial historical juncture, state officials increasingly drew from and relied upon public health policies and practices in their efforts to shape and mould Canada into a strong 'British' settlement colony. In their pursuit of social, national and ultimately racial hygiene, the federal government, its provincial counterparts, and various non-state agencies implemented a number of large-scale programs aimed at building a healthy and racially pure citizenry, a process that Foucault has broadly termed the 'imperative of health: at once the duty of each and the objective of all'2.
Yet while authorities were preoccupied with cultivating citizens, they were equally concerned with ridding Canada of those 'unfit' and 'undesirable' populations who did not meet the physical, moral, and mental requirements of citizenship3. As many scholars have convincingly argued, languages of health and hygiene were (and still are) racially coded and have been central to (post)colonial practices of inclusion and exclusion4. Whereas the making of a healthy Canadian population was indeed racialised, one way in which whiteness and national inclusion were socially and legally articulated, legal expulsions on the basis of health were also racially determined. Writing about the history of public health, Deborah Lupton explains that 19th century health and hygiene movements were concerned with maintaining the boundaries between populations and 'preventing contamination of those within from those without'5. In Canada - a newly formed nation that was desperately aspiring to become a white settler colony - public health policies were aimed at preventing contagion from without and were often bound up with racialised fears about immigration and border control6. Governmental strategies for managing health during this period - through technologies of separation, segregation, and isolation7 - were largely constituted in and constitutive of racialised governance in Canada.
This paper traces the interface between health, race, and nation through the legal and spatial exclusion of Chinese immigrants suffering from leprosy in the province of British Columbia8. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, leprosy was constituted as a serious public health issue on Canada's west coast. During this period, the City of Victoria along with the provincial and federal governments developed and deployed a series of legally mandated and coercive systems of containment targeting those 'unfit' and 'undesirable' immigrants thought to be infected with the 'loathsome' disease of leprosy. In 1891, D'Arcy Island became Canada's first and only Chinese leper colony9. Located on an island just Northeast of Victoria, the lazaretto was operative from 1891 until 1924. During this 33- year period, the City of Victoria along with the British Columbia and federal governments, exiled a total of 49 men to the 'island prison'10. Significantly, 43 of these men were Chinese. Banished indefinitely, the men spent their days waiting to be deported or to die, whichever came first.
The argument that leprosy was a disease commonly associated with colonialism and with non-white populations has already been put forth by several scholars11. Although leprosy was commonly associated with Chinese immigrants in other geographical locales and in the international medical literature, the racialisation of leprosy in British Columbia was particularly acute. Leprosy was so profoundly 'raced' on the west coast, that it came to be known in popular and medical discourse as a 'Chinese disease.' In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, British Columbia became 'home' to many immigrants from China. Although the Chinese were at various times recruited by the federal government to supply the nation with cheap labour, BC authorities, labour groups, and the public more generally were extremely concerned about immigration, and in particular, how a large Chinese population might shift the province's future12. If stigmas and stereotypes have influenced the development of policies aimed at the control and management of leprosy, as some scholars have claimed13, it seems then that governmental responses to leprosy in British Columbia cannot be thought of as reactions to a biomedical contagion alone. Rather, I argue that initiatives aimed at managing disease on Canada's west coast were also responses to what many believed was a 'foreign invasion.' I explore then how and why public health policies, immigration restrictions, and deportation practices came together in anxieties over state-initiated responses to leprosy. More specifically, I address the ways in which a racialised Canadian identity was imagined through these overlapping, legally mandated, and spatially articulated exclusionary processes.
I begin this paper with a brief discussion of anti-Chinese racism in British Columbia. Over the last 20 years, much has been written about histories of Chinese immigration, settlement, and exclusion on the west coast14, but because I argue that the management of leprosy needs to be squarely situated within British Columbia's climate of anti-Chinese agitation, a brief contextualising section is necessary. Here I discuss the ways in which legal exclusions and spatial containments were aimed at disenfranchising Chinese residents, locating them outside of the national imaginary. In the second part, I unravel the complicated relationship between leprosy, race, and colonialism. Many medical sociologists and historians have drawn attention to the imperial and colonial contexts in which leprosy research, and tropical medicine more generally, were advanced and understood15. Here, I use these discussions as a backdrop to explore how leprosy was conceptualized in British Columbia. I suggest that medical practitioners and bureaucrats understood leprosy as a disease that was not only imported through the bodies of Chinese labourers but which was thought to be endemic across British Columbia's Chinese communities. Ultimately, I argue that concerns about leprosy were bound up with broader anxieties about the 'influx' of Chinese immigrants. In other words, growing fears of contagion lent additional weight to ongoing debates about the need for more vigilant border control.
In the third section I discuss the legally-mandated structures of leprosy management that culminated in the making of D'Arcy Island. Here, I explore the ways in which medico-legal responses to leprosy were interwoven with racially restrictive immigration laws and deportation programs. I argue that the techniques for managing leprosy - through coerced geographical isolation - were fused with other spatial and racial practices of removal. Public health policies, immigration laws, and deportation, were all spatial forms of exclusion that were integral to the making of a Canadian imaginary, racialised technologies that were aimed at the metaphorical and literal separation of 'citizen' from 'foreigner,' 'clean' from 'unclean,' and 'self' from other.'
The first Chinese immigrants arrived on Canada's west coast in 1858. Drawn by rumours of gold, many came north from California in search of a quick fortune and ultimately a better life. In 1860, there were approximately 4,000 Chinese sojourners residing on Vancouver Island and on the colony's mainland16, a number that had rapidly increased to an estimated 7,000 by the mid-1860's17. But as the gold rush reached a close, many of these men who came seeking wealth left the colony to return to the United States or to go back to China. For all of those who moved on, there were others who stayed to work in the newly established local resource industries including salmon canning and coal mining. Many worked as farm labourers, merchants, and domestics, while some opened businesses, to service the growing European presence18. Although the numbers of Chinese residents remained relatively small in comparison to the steadily increasing Euro-Canadian population, by the 1880s, these figures grew substantially, as unskilled labour from China was being actively recruited by the federal government and by private interests.
Because of the material demands of nation building, many authorities recognized that cheap labor was necessary for the construction of a national infrastructure and for the development of a strong economy. The preference for low-paid Chinese railway workers meant that Canadian authorities strongly encouraged and supported immigration schemes from China19. Andrew Onderdonk, a contractor for the Canadian Pacific Railway, along with other entrepreneurs began importing thousands of Chinese men to work as unskilled labourers on the transnational railway20. Between 1881 and 1884, an estimated 17,000 Chinese labourers arrived in British Columbia to begin railway work21. But while Chinese workers were much desired by the federal government and private entrepreneurs, local authorities deeply opposed their presence on the west coast. With hopes of leaving poverty and political instability behind in China, many of the men who came to British Columbia were met with an equally disparaging social and political climate that only intensified. These early Chinese workers were not only unwelcome in the newly formed province, but were denied the most basic and fundamental citizenship rights, including the right to work and live with dignity.
In her book Immigrant Acts, Lisa Lowe problematises this tension between the demands of a capitalist economy and the making of a national culture. Writing of the US context, Lowe argues that Asians have been historically and materially crucial in the building and sustaining of America yet unwelcome and excluded from the national imaginary. She explains that, 'the project of imagining the nation as homogeneous requires the orientalist construction of cultures and geographies from which Asian immigrants come, as fundamentally 'foreign,' origins antipathetic to the modern American society that 'discovers,' 'welcomes,' and 'domesticates' them'22. Lowe argues that this contradiction between the material and imaginary aspects of the nation that were glaringly apparent within the historical context of Asian immigration was reconciled through state initiatives aimed at legally and socially disenfranchising Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigrants. The American government passed a series of laws barring Asians from owning property, inter-marrying, and from accessing citizenship23, juridical processes which firmly located Asians outside of the American body politic.
By the late 19th century, similar practices were underway in Canada24. Canadian authorities, like their American counterparts, were also concerned with reconciling the material and imaginary dimensions of nation building and thus implemented comparable legislative initiatives that initially targeted the Chinese. Labour recruitment campaigns combined with significant demographic shifts - most notably the devastating population decline of First Nations peoples during the latter half of the 19th century25- meant that Chinese immigrants were the largest and most visible non-British immigrant group residing in British Columbia during this period26. Even though the west coast was home to a number of other racialised immigrants, including a growing Japanese and South Asian community, Chinese residents were the ones most often targeted by racist discourses and practices.
Efforts to exclude Chinese immigrants through law were not only fuelled by public perceptions of a growing and thus threatening non-white population, but were also intensified by common and pervasive racialised theories and assumptions about the inherent 'foreignness' of the Chinese race. In 1885, Justice Henry Pering Pellew Crease of the Supreme Court of British Columbia described the racial ambivalence in the making of a white settler society as follows: 'The real fact is, and the more completely it is recognised the better, that we cannot do without a certain number of Chinese for manual labour and for domestic servants'27. However, Crease and many others cautioned that the Chinese were an alien class who were simply 'too foreign' to live along side white settlers. He explained that they 'will never assimilate with the Anglo-Saxon race, nor is it desirable that they should … They do not regard British Columbia as their home and when they die send their bones home to be buried in China'28.
In British Columbia, political authorities relied extensively on law to resolve the tensions between the material and metaphorical settler fantasies. The province aimed to reconcile this simultaneous desire and disavowal through the enactment of coercive legislation, ranging from employment restrictions to head taxes. As early as 1864, seven years before British Columbia joined Canada in confederation, a motion to tax the Chinese was already tabled at the legislative assembly in Victoria. But in the absence of widespread political support, the motion was dismissed29. It appears that Confederation had little impact on the province's anti-Chinese agenda. Between 1884 and 1904, the British Columbia government successfully passed 22 restrictive acts aimed to regulate Chinese immigrants in various capacities, including where they could live and work30. In 1872, for instance, the British Columbia legislature passed a law that barred Chinese immigrants from voting, an Act that was expanded in 1895 and 1907 to include Japanese and South Asian immigrants respectively31. Since the federal franchise was derived from provincial specifications, these restrictions meant that Chinese, and other excluded immigrants, could neither vote in provincial nor federal elections32.
Writing about colonial power in Australia, Jane Jacobs reminds us that, 'cultures of power and domination never fully realise themselves'. She elaborates that colonial power relations 'are always anxiously regrouping, reinventing, and reinscribing their authority against the challenge of anticolonial formations but also against their own internal instability'33. While Chinese British Columbians often mobilised legal notions of 'justice' to challenge the basis of many of these exclusionary laws34, the constitutional division of powers between the federal and provincial governments also complicated and significantly altered these local legislative initiatives. Importantly, colonial agendas across the two levels of government were never monolithic or static but were in an ongoing state of negotiation from within and without. For example, federal authorities and the courts did not often support discriminatory laws and policies that were passed at the provincial level. In fact, the courts disallowed much of the provincially enacted legislation that restricted the rights of British Columbia's Chinese communities because it was thought to directly contravene the British North America Act35.
In 1884, for instance, the British Columbia legislature approved several measures aimed at restricting Chinese immigration including a CAD 10 poll tax and a ban on Chinese ownership of Crown lands36. The courts disallowed the poll tax on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory37. But soon after the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, the federal government imposed its own framework of Chinese exclusion through a series of head taxes aimed at deliberately limiting and curtailing Chinese immigration. On1 July, 1923 the Chinese Exclusion Act replaced the head taxes38. This new legislation, which was not repealed until 1947, placed a virtual ban an on immigration from China39.Because the British Columbia government was not entirely successful in their legislative campaign to restrict Chinese immigration, spatial technologies became increasingly important strategies of inclusion and exclusion. British Columbia authorities relied on a number of spatial containments including the creation of Chinatowns and other legally mandated racialised places to legitimise ideas about the Chinese as 'racially inferior' and more importantly, to limit their social, political, and economic possibilities. Kay Anderson's work is a useful reminder that Chinatowns are not naturally occurring spaces, but have been shaped by complicated histories of regulation and resistance. She explains that while state practices 'institutionalized the concept of a Chinese race,' it was 'in space that the concept became materially cemented and naturalized in everyday life'40. Although many authorities claimed that Chinese immigrants 'practically confine[d] themselves to Chinatown'41and thus exacerbated racial segregation, it is important to remember that these spaces were established through a matrix of legal and non-legal initiatives. Decades of government surveillance combined with visceral racism drastically limited the residential options available to British Columbia's Chinese community. Spatial confinements, like legislative restrictions, significantly limited the rights of Chinese British Columbians by constraining their access to resources and to justice42. It was within this context of anti-Chinese racism that medical practitioners and state authorities developed local theories and responses to leprosy in British Columbia.
By the late 19th century, medical practitioners, policy-makers, and many colonial governments began conceptualising leprosy as an urgent social and public health issue. Although the disease had posed serious moral, physical, and religious implications in Europe during the Middle Ages, its prevalence and significance had largely diminished from the 16th century onward43. It was not until the 1880s and 1890s - at the peak of imperialist expansion, that leprosy came into renewed interest around the world44. While the disease had always carried a powerful moral stigma for its victims, by the 19th century, medical and state authorities began to problematise leprosy in distinct ways. During this period, the disease was closely bound up with imperial concerns and was newly understood in terms of its perceived national and racial implications. Despite the fact that leprosy was far less common and much less contagious than other infectious diseases including tuberculosis and smallpox, fears about the 'loathsome' disease precipitated a series of coercive and organised medical, social, and legal regulatory responses45. For the most part, technologies of leprosy control and prevention centred on the spatial exclusion and the enforced isolation of those infected. While exile was a common reaction and containment strategy in earlier periods, what was notably different in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the way in which leprosy management closely mirrored and merged with the colonial governance of racialised populations46.
The resurgent interest in leprosy was witnessed through an increased medical and social preoccupation with the disease. For one, there was a proliferation of international medical literature that developed and debated theories of causation and generated novel approaches to treatment and prevention. Heightened concerns about the disease were also evident in the medico-legal responses initiated by many colonial governments. While special leprosy hospitals sprang up across the globe, many countries also enacted unprecedented and punitive legislation aimed at legally enforcing the compulsory isolation of lepers47. Importantly, as Zachary Gussow points out, there was no remarkable increase in the prevalence of leprosy during this time. Rather, he and others have convincingly argued that this latest international interest in leprosy was tied, although not exclusively, to colonial and imperial expansion and to growing European apprehensions about 'far off places' and their non-white inhabitants who were thought to be the 'reservoirs' of disease48.
Nineteenth century leprosy research and management took place at a time when theories of racial difference and acclimatisation were becoming increasingly prominent in medical and scientific discourse49. This latest concern about leprosy was deeply influenced by these developments, and particularly by the expanding discipline of tropical medicine, a body of knowledge saturated with imperialist and colonialist assumptions and explicitly organised in racial terms50. As Cindy Patton explains, the 'very idea of tropical medicine rested on the ability to reliably separate an Indigenous population, thought to be physically hearty but biologically inferior, from a colonizing population, believed to be biologically superior even when subject to tropical illnesses' 51. In many countries, including the United States and Canada, medical practitioners and government officials argued that leprosy was a 'foreign' disease that originated in the warmer climate of the tropics and that invaded and infected these nations through the bodies of dirty and diseased immigrants. Although the mode of leprosy transmission was largely undetermined and intensely debated during this period, many medical professionals agreed that the origins of leprosy could be traced to Chinese workers who imported the disease from China, only to contaminate white and non-white populations alike.
Although authorities in Australia and the US traced leprosy to early Chinese labourers, in both of these countries the disease was also detected among other non-white populations, particularly indigenous peoples. Here, the logic of tropical medicine operated in much the way that Patton describes above, distinguishing colonizer from colonized and European from Native. Alison Bashford and Maria Nugent's important work in Australia suggests that while leprosy was commonly associated with Chinese immigrants and Pacific Islanders in the late 19th century, in the early 20th century with the introduction of restrictive immigration laws and a drastically reduced Chinese community, leprosy was believed to be most prevalent amongst Aboriginal peoples or Torres Straight Islanders52. Although leprosy was virtually non-existent in Europe, doctors and experts were surprised to find that many whites residing in 'perilous' tropical zones like Australia and South Africa were as predisposed to infection, as were their native counterparts53. Despite the prevalence of leprosy among whites in the colonies, the disproportionate numbers of non-white peoples thought to be infected, lent considerable weight to racialised medical assumptions about the origins of disease. By the late 19th century, Europeans and Americans viewed leprosy as a serious imperialist concern and traced the scourge to the corrupt and unhygienic 'customs and habits of inferior races'54. In light of these prominent 'scientific' theories, it seems hardly coincidental that escalating fears about leprosy in these and other white settler colonies corresponded to and were entangled with growing insecurities about 'dangerous' Chinese immigrants and their 'alien germs'55.
The study and management of leprosy was clearly organised in and through questions of race, yet the disease was not thought of in racial terms alone. In Northern Scandinavian countries - where leprosy was common - the disease was problematised very differently than it was in the colonies. In 19th century Norway, for instance, where leprosy was believed to be prevalent and thus sparked national medical and state interest, the disease was conceived of as a social and medical issue56. Interestingly, the 'True North' has been a prevalent Canadian national mythology, in which Canada is imagined as having more in common with northern European nations than with our southern neighbours, the US57. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, in certain Canadian regions, most notably on the east coast, leprosy was conceptualised as a biomedical contagion that had few racial implications. In New Brunswick, where the first case of leprosy was detected in 1815, the disease was believed to be most frequently occurring among Northern European populations including immigrants from France, Ireland, Scotland, and Britain58. Here, medical practitioners were particularly surprised to find that leprosy had never been detected among any of the neighbouring First Nations communities and thus did not affect Indigenous populations as it did elsewhere. Because Northern Europeans were considered to be 'raceless'59, many doctors concluded that the prevalence of the 'loathsome' disease in this region could not be racially determined. In a Canadian report on leprosy, one medical practitioner familiar with patterns of the disease in New Brunswick concluded as follows: 'It is historically proved that the disease attacks all races'60.
In Canada, links between leprosy, race, and colonialism were only apparent when those afflicted with the disease were non-white, particularly Chinese. On the west coast, leprosy was constituted and managed very differently than it was on the Atlantic seaboard. To be more specific, theories about the origins of leprosy were deeply embedded within the province's potent climate of anti-Chinese racism. Thus, explanations about the origins of leprosy in British Columbia were often bound up and inseparable from fears about unrestricted and unregulated Chinese immigration. Leprosy, like Chinese immigration, was seen as a growing threat to British Columbia's newly conceived imperial space. Here, as was the case in Australia and elsewhere, medical practitioners and state authorities argued that the disease was not indigenous to the region, but was imported into the settlement colony through the bodies of 'undesirable foreigners.' What seems to be unique to the BC context however is that leprosy was almost exclusively thought to be a Chinese disease. Despite difficulties in diagnosing leprosy - and that it was often indistinguishable from other infectious diseases61 - many local doctors and political officials insisted that leprosy was endemic within British Columbia's Chinatowns.
Government officials and early colonists did not only regard British Columbia's Chinese residents as a social and economic threat to the province, as I discussed in the previous section, but also as a serious public health risk. While ideas about race and contagion were undoubtedly cultivated within British Columbia's local context of Chinese agitation, these discursive constructions were also most certainly influenced by broader representations that juxtaposed 'East' and 'West.' Within the colonial imagination, China was marked as a diseased place, a country plagued by illness and contagion62. Imperial authorities alleged that many diseases, including leprosy, were transported via immigration from China and other 'uncivilised' countries to Britain and her settler colonies including Canada. Whereas China was seen as a celestial space of decay, Chinese immigrants were constituted by Western authorities as diseased bodies; first as carriers of venereal diseases including syphilis, and then later as infected with other forms of contagion including smallpox and leprosy63. Drawing from this wider discourse, many politicians, bureaucrats, and doctors in British Columbia argued that the unsanitary habits among the Chinese combined with their deplorable living conditions were perilous to the colony's health. As one Nanaimo resident observed, they 'live amongst so much filth and neglect of sanitary arrangements, that they cannot but be a danger to public health.' He cautioned that the Chinese quarters on Vancouver Island could easily become 'centers from which contagion would spread all around,' and that 'diseases not otherwise dangerous might readily become epidemic'64. These racialised public health anxieties added fuel to ongoing debates about racial segregation - the need to spatially contain those Chinese immigrants already in the province, and more importantly, to prevent a further 'influx' of aliens.
By the late 19th century, ideas about the Chinese as a 'leprous race' were so firmly entrenched within BC's colonial imagination that the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration interrogated witnesses about the frequency, occurrence, and rates of leprosy among British Columbia's Chinese residents. Interestingly, they did not ask about any other infectious diseases. The Royal Commission of 1885 was established by John A MacDonald's government and was mandated to make an inquiry into all matters connected with Chinese immigration to Canada. The British Columbia government played a pivotal role in facilitating this process, as they had repeatedly asked parliament to enact legislation to prohibit or at the very least restrict immigration from China. The Commission examined 31 witnesses in total and sent printed questions to another 39. Although one written question asked respondents about the general health of the Chinese, an entirely separate question was included about the incidence of leprosy. Specifically, number 26 on the questionnaire asked: 'What personal knowledge have you of the presence of leprosy among them [the Chinese] and have you any personal knowledge of leprosy being communicated from them to the whites, and if so, how many instances and under what circumstances?'65
Leprosy was never numerically significant in British Columbia, or elsewhere for that matter. In fact, other contagious diseases including smallpox and tuberculosis were not only more prevalent among Chinese immigrants, Aboriginal peoples, and Euro-Canadians, but also caused far more fatalities than leprosy ever did66. Yet, the Royal Commissioners justified the leprosy question, insisting that it was to help them to determine whether there was any factual basis to the widespread belief that the Chinese were more predisposed to leprosy67. In other words, because socio-medical constructions of leprosy were so deeply entangled with racial meanings and were so widely circulated among British Columbia's provincial bureaucrats, medical practitioners, and citizens, the Commissioners justified that a separate question on leprosy was not only important but also necessary.
Few of the witnesses were able to comment on the exact nature and extent of leprosy in British Columbia. Many testified that although the Chinese were indeed diseased by smallpox, tuberculosis, and syphilis, they had little knowledge about the incidence of leprosy. Superintendent Charles Bloomfield told the Commission that while the Chinese do bring diseases with them, he could only recall about '10 or 12 cases of male leprosy within the past 10 years'68. When asked about the frequency of leprosy, Chief Justice Begbie responded suspiciously, insisting that the links between Chinese immigration and leprosy were completely erroneous: 'It is common to attribute to Chinamen generally, that they are infected with disgusting diseases - for example, leprosy. I believe that this is pure imagination an absolutely unfounded report'69. In fact, Begbie himself could only recall one case of Chinese leprosy, and testified that he had absolutely no knowledge that the disease had ever been passed onto whites'70. There were other witnesses who reported that they too had rarely seen cases of 'Chinese leprosy'. Dr John Helmcken, a prominent surgeon and political figure in British Columbia, told the Commission that despite his medical expertise and experience, he had only ever seen two cases of the disease in British Columbia, 'one in an Indian before the Chinese arrived, and one about eight or 10 years ago - this a Chinaman'71.
Despite the lack of clear evidence linking Chinese immigrants and leprosy in British Columbia, these theories were continually put forth, from both inside and outside the province. In 1898 an article about the Chinese and leprosy was written by Dr Ernest Hall and John Nelson, and was published in the Dominion Medical Monthly. The two men, who had recently visited D'Arcy Island, insisted that leprosy was most prevalent in 'Oriental lands', particularly in China and Japan, but also in India, and Hawaii. So convinced of its racial dimensions, they traced the origins of the disease on the Pacific Coast, specifically to 'the immigration of the Mongolian races to her shores'. In other words, Hall and Nelson explained that the 'plague peculiar to the East'72 had been first introduced in British Columbia by Chinese gold-seekers and labourers. To provide further support for their theory, Hall and Nelson insisted that leprosy had never been found among British Columbia's Euro-Canadian population, nor had it ever been detected among the province's First Nations Peoples73. In their racialised understandings of leprosy, it seems that Hall and Nelson implied a hereditary theory of transmission. Despite the fact that several of the Chinese men who were exiled to on D'Arcy Island had previously been employed as domestics in Euro-Canadian homes, Hall and Nelson insisted that they knew of no European cases of leprosy in British Columbia. Interestingly, leprosy in British Columbia was not linked to Aboriginal populations in the way that it was in Australia and elsewhere. Although Hall and Nelson were not the first to argue that leprosy had never been detected among Aboriginal peoples, their writings reinforced discursive constructions of Chinese bodies as diseased and disfigured by leprosy.
Despite the fact that First Nations peoples were believed to have escaped contagion, several unfounded reports were made during the late nineteenth century about Chinese immigrants spreading the disease across British Columbia's Native communities. In 1888, the Ottawa Evening Journal printed a story about a 'legless' Chinese leper who had been suspected of selling large quantities of liquor to the Indians. The paper alleged that the man had been convicted in Victoria's police court on two prior occasions, but on account of his disease, he was not incarcerated in the provincial jail74. Because the man was believed to have been suffering from what authorities believed was 'Chinese leprosy,' the warden felt that he was not 'a fit person to mix with other prisoners.' Fearing a potential epidemic across the entire prison population, the warden - with the support of British Columbia's Attorney General - released the man into the community75.
On 20 February 1891, another sensationalist article appeared in the Toronto Mail. This latest article read as follows: 'Word comes from British Columbia that cases of leprosy are being discovered among the Chinese there, and that the loathsome disease is being communicated to the Indians. A Government Investigation is asked for'76. The federal Department of Indian Affairs asked Indian Agents in British Columbia to quickly investigate and respond to these allegations. Between 1891 and 1900, six Indian Agents from Vancouver Island and the mainland replied to the government's inquiries. While most agreed, 'no such disease has ever broken out among the Indians of British Columbia'77, others recalled a few cases where Aboriginal peoples were suspected of having leprosy, but were later thought to be misdiagnosed. Of the two known cases, one turned out to be 'chronic Syphilis of a virulent type'78, and the other was gangrene and not leprosy79.
Although Chinese immigrants had long been constituted as a bio-cultural threat in British Columbia, fears about the spread of leprosy across Euro-Canadian and Aboriginal populations exacerbated these anxieties and became yet another justification for Chinese exclusion. In 1891, when the City of Victoria did detect signs of the 'loathsome' disease among the city's Chinese inhabitants, this discovery simply concretised pervasive ideas of the Chinese as a leprous race and more importantly, reinforced public and governmental opinions that Chinese immigration needed to be curtailed. In 1899, the Victoria Colonist responded to local reports of leprosy as follows:
'These lepers [in Victoria] are all Chinamen. If the people of British Columbia had their own way, Chinamen would be excluded from the provinces, but the Dominion government will not allow exclusion…strict provision should be taken to prevent any more lepers arriving in Canada. Every Chinaman should be obliged to pass a medical examination before being allowed to land in this country'80.
By the late 19th century, leprosy in British Columbia was firmly rooted as a 'Chinese disease.' Importantly, these racialised theories had serious material consequences, as they legitimised and reinforced calls for more vigilant medical inspections of Chinese immigrants within and without Canadian borders81. As I elaborate in the next section, the social and legal initiatives that government officials proposed in their efforts to control and prevent leprosy on Canada's west coast were closely bound up with, and often inseparable from, concerns about border control. Thus, immigration restrictions, deportation policies, and other spatial practices of exclusion all figured prominently in the management of leprosy in British Columbia.
The care and control of leprosy sparked numerous global debates in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These discussions were largely precipitated by ambiguities and inconsistencies around theories of contagion, as epidemiologists remained relatively unclear and uncertain about the contagiousness of leprosy as well as its mode of transmission82. Because the disease was not rapidly spread between people in the same way as cholera, tuberculosis, and small pox for instance, medical experts questioned whether the disease was communicable or if it could possibly be hereditary83. In British Columbia, which for the most part was far removed from these discussions, many medical practitioners acknowledged that leprosy was only mildly if at all contagious, and that prolonged contact was necessary for the disease to be spread from person to person. Dr John Helmcken was among those locals who locally questioned the contagiousness of leprosy. In his testimony to the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration, Helmcken reported that leprosy, to his knowledge, was hereditary and not communicable. 'According to the best medical authorities,' he explained, 'leprosy is not considered a contagious disease. To-day, it exists in Norway and Sweden, and also in the Mediterranean countries … It is more or less hereditary; and in some families there might be a leper. People residing and cohabiting with them do not take the disease'84.
Throughout the world, there were many other infectious diseases that were transmitted with more virulence and which posed more potent social and public health consequences than leprosy. Yet, it was with leprosy and not with these other contagious diseases that medical and state authorities introduced compulsory reporting as well as unprecedented forms of enforced legal and spatial isolation85. In various colonial contexts, including British Columbia, medical practitioners and political officials concerned with leprosy management, proposed and quickly implemented coercive systems of forced segregation that aimed to separate infected from healthy and racialised from white. Despite general agreement among international medical experts that leprosy was a chronic disease with a long incubation period, quarantine and isolation - although controversial medico-legal techniques of disease control - became preferred prophylactic responses86.
While British Columbia doctors and bureaucrats were undoubtedly influenced by these international discussions and legislative developments, it is important to keep in mind that the local context was also integral to shaping containment policies. As I have suggested throughout, leprosy deeply threatened ongoing colonial projects in British Columbia. Provincial authorities alleged that the 'influx' of Chinese immigrants with their 'loathsome' diseases would potentially undermine and disrupt their efforts to transform British Columbia into a respectable white settler society. While immigration restrictions and other forms of spatial management such as Chinatowns for example, were important technologies of Chinese exclusion, many local authorities urged that the province needed separate legal machinery through which they could manage Chinese lepers.
Leprosy control in Canada was undoubtedly influenced by the division of power between the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government. Initially, the disease fell under national jurisdiction and was included in the Dominion's Quarantine Act. In 1872, the Dominion government amended the legislation to exclude leprosy, which then became a public health issue to be governed by each individual province87. In British Columbia, leprosy was added to the Consolidated Health By-Law of 1886, a law that empowered the City's Medical Health Officer to apprehend and isolate anyone believed to be suffering from an infectious disease. Despite the lack of clear-cut medical evidence about leprosy transmission, its inclusion in the by-law confirms that medical and public health authorities feared the disease to be potentially contagious and thus supported strict segregation and quarantine.
Although leprosy had long been associated with the Chinese, it was not until 1891 that several cases of leprosy were actually detected on Canada's west coast. In March of that year, Victoria's Health Inspector had been called to investigate the 'peculiar habits' of several Chinese men who had been sleeping on the sidewalks in the city's Chinese quarters, and whose presence was believed to be jeopardising public health. During his visit to Victoria's Chinatown, the Health Inspector found five 'leprous' men, a discovery that reaffirmed local fears about 'Chinese leprosy'88. Despite medical opinions that leprosy could not be transmitted through casual contact, and perhaps more importantly, that there were only five confirmed cases in Victoria, the City's Sanitation Committee responded with panic. In the interests of public health and safety, the Committee recommended that the five men should be compulsorily isolated on an island lazarette, located as far away from the mainland as possible.
Victoria's Mayor and Aldermen proposed D'Arcy Island to be a suitable location. Not only was the island believed to be uninhabited, but also it was 17 miles distant from Victoria89. Named after John D'Arcy, a mate of the HMS Herald who had visited British Columbia in 184690, the proposed site for the leper colony was comprised of two small plots of land located among the scenic Gulf Islands. Big and Small D'Arcy Island, as they are popularly termed, are situated one nautical mile south of Sydney Island in Haro Straight, a channel that physically marks the Canadian border by cordoning off the American San Juan Islands from Southern Vancouver Island. At the time of the City's request, the British Columbia government had already leased the island to private interests, but after hearing of the Chinese lepers, they quickly terminated the agreement. On 21 April 1891, the Sanitary Committee reported that their proposal to build a lazaretto on D'Arcy Island had been granted. By May of that same year, the five men were coercively (re)moved from Victoria and were exiled to the island indefinitely.
Despite growing medical opinion that enforced isolation was unnecessary, many local authorities spoke highly of the City's decision to build an island leper colony and its resolution to compulsorily segregate the five men, as well as subsequent cases. Dr Fagan, the Secretary of the Provincial Board of Health, explained that while 'leprosy is not as contagious as some others of the infectious diseases ... it is thought that isolation is the best means to be adopted for stamping it out'91. Shortly after the lazaretto was established, Dr Smith - a leprosy expert who had overseen the leprosarium in Tracadie, New Brunswick - was sent to D'Arcy Island to examine the men, and to evaluate and report on the prevalence of leprosy and its management in British Columbia. He confirmed that all five of the men had been carefully examined by local doctors and were correctly diagnosed as having leprosy. In addition, he supported the City's decision to compulsorily segregate these cases, insisting that isolation was the only way that leprosy could be effectively controlled and eradicated. Smith explained that, the 'disease can be rooted out,' but only by 'segregation of the lepers from the community, and preventing them from associating with other people.' He cajoled that the 'authorities of Victoria have taken the proper method of dealing with leprosy and careful attention will keep it from spreading'92.
During the 33-year period that D'Arcy Island was operative, images of Chinese leprosy were repeatedly reinscribed and reinforced. Kept safely across a body of water and away from British Columbia's Euro-Canadian settler society, this carceral space materially secured and cemented the discursive connections between Chineseness and leprosy. In other words, although D'Arcy Island was created as a space of enforced isolation or confinement for those afflicted with leprosy, it became a Chinese space in response to Chinese leprosy. Of the 49 men banished to the lazaretto, 43 were Chinese. Out of the non-Chinese residents, one was a German-Russian, one a Russian, one Japanese, one Chilean-Kanaka, one Russian-Jew, and one Doukhobor. At least one of these men was also racialised. Importantly, the German-Russian was, like his Chinese counterparts, believed to be suffering from 'Chinese leprosy.' Authorities alleged that the man had contracted the disease from Victoria's Chinese quarters, where he had been living for some time93.
From 1891 until 1905, the lazaretto on D'Arcy Island fell under municipal jurisdiction. During this period, the objectives of leprosy management centred on the protection of the pubic and on punishing those afflicted with the disease. In these early years, the City provided the island's residents with the bare necessities of live. The Medical Health Officer delivered supplies every three months, including food, clothing, and sometimes opium94. Although the Medical Health Officer assured the province that the lepers were 'never in need of food, clothes or housing,' many authorities including the Provincial Board of Health questioned why the men were never provided any medical treatment or pain relief95.
From the outset, it seems that the City was eager to relinquish its responsibilities over D'Arcy Island. At various points during their tenure, local authorities and citizens residing in Victoria made repeated demands that the Dominion government assume administration over the lazaretto. This argument became particularly acute after the federal Chinese head taxes were implemented in Canada. The first tax was instituted in 1885 and required all immigrants from China to pay a CAD 50 fee upon entering the country96. Shortly thereafter, provincial and municipal authorities began pressuring the federal government to take responsibility for D'Arcy Island. In 1892, an editorialist for the Victoria Colonist remarked that the government 'draws a considerable revenue from Chinese immigration. Why does it not appropriate part of the money to support the lazaretto on D'Arcy Island?'97
These local initiatives aimed at pressuring the federal government proved to be somewhat effective. In 1901, when the Chinese head tax was doubled to CAD 100, an agreement was reached between the federal and provincial governments, the former promising the province that they would receive half of the head-tax revenue in exchange for managing the lazaretto. Although the British Columbia government reimbursed the City of Victoria for all its expenses relating to D'Arcy Island, it was not until 1905 that the province assumed full jurisdiction over leprosy management, a responsibility that lasted only one year98. During this short time, the Board of Health made many improvements. They increased the deliveries from quarterly to monthly shipments, sending fresh food and supplies but still no medical treatment. In 1906, the federal Government assumed control over D'Arcy Island and all other leprosaria in Canada when it passed the Leprosy Act99. From 1906 until 1924, the year that D'Arcy Island was finally closed, the objectives of leprosy control were expanded to include treatment. Although the federal government began providing leprosy sufferers with medical attention and pain relief, the aims and objectives of the lazaretto changed dramatically. D'Arcy Island was no longer just a space for the containment and quarantine of those suffering from leprosy but was newly conceptualised as a detention facility for Chinese lepers, many of whom were eventually deported back to China.
By the turn-of-the century, liberal notions of 'justice' and 'fairness' seemed to be gaining prominence, as local concerns were mounting about the inhumane treatment of D'Arcy Island's residents100. Some medical practitioners and health authorities, albeit not all, objected to the dreadful living conditions on the island as well as the lack of treatment. In 1904, Dr Brydone-Jack, the Chairman of the Board of Health, openly questioned the City's (mis)treatment of the lepers. While the leprosarium residents in Tracadie, New Brunswick were provided medical care in a hospital-like environment, Brydone-Jack pointed out that D'Arcy Island's residents were awarded 'no medical treatment' and were provided with 'very little supervision beyond the sending over of food supplies.' Moreover, he observed that the lepers had no way of obtaining help except through 'the raising of a flag (if the patient is capable of doing so) which may or may not be seen from a passing boat or from the adjacent island, if help is required'101. Consequently, one leper had remained 'unburied for a few days, as the living were unable to bury the dead without assistance'102. One year later, Dr Fagan also from the Board of Health, informed the Attorney General that the living conditions on D'Arcy Island were deteriorating even further. Fagan explained that there 'is no bath, no closet, in fact, no accommodation beyond what is barely necessary to live'103. He too urged the province to take action, insisting that the municipal government was simply 'marooning Lepers for life'104.
By 1904, local newspapers also began questioning the policy of incarcerating lepers on D'Arcy Island. The Colonist argued that leprosy was not highly contagious as had previously been thought. In their view, those afflicted with the disease would pose little danger to the community, unless of course they had continuous and intimate contact with healthy individuals105. The many criticisms emerging at the time prompted debate about effective strategies of leprosy management. While a new lazaretto was proposed for the William Head Quarantine Station - located near Esquimalt, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island - others argued that deportation was the most effective measure for leprosy control and prevention in British Columbia106.
Deportation in Canada was frequently used to rid the nation of its least desirable inhabitants107. Although many immigrants suffering from contagious diseases were prohibited entry into Canada under the provisions of the 1902 Immigration Act and subsequent legislation108, deportation became a type of safety device, that was mobilised to rid the country of unfit foreigners who escaped detection at points of entry. It is important to note that until the turn-of-the century, there was no formal legal machinery in place to deport immigrants who had already entered into Canada109. But by the early 20th century, a system of deportation had become legally formalised and was regarded by Canadian authorities as an important technology of nation building, allowing political officials to banish and exile those who were socially, morally, and physically unfit.
Between 1907 and 1917, when D'Arcy Island was a federal responsibility, 21 men who were isolated on the island-lazaretto were legally expunged from Canadian borders. During this time, the island was increasingly described as a 'depot' for those 'awaiting deportation'110. The expulsion of leprosy victims suggests that racialised theories linking the Chinese to leprosy were not only hegemonic but also extremely powerful. Of the 21 men deported, 20 were Chinese and one Japanese. These numbers would have most probably been higher, but authorities found it difficult to secure a shipping company that had adequate quarantine facilities on board and that would be willing to transport men afflicted with the 'scourge' of leprosy111. Consequently, some of the men suffering from leprosy died while awaiting deportation112.
Unfortunately for many government officials, deportations were eventually limited through legislative changes. By 1917, deportations for leprosy and other physical, mental, and moral diseases were increasingly restrictive. The federal Immigration Act had newly been amended prohibiting the deportation of anyone domiciled in Canada for five years or longer, unless prospective deports consented to his or her forced removal113. Although the use of deportation was legally restricted, it seems that medical practitioners and political authorities on Canada's west coast continued to favour repatriation as an effective prophylactic strategy. Not only could the province and the nation save money - as deportation was believed to be less costly than incarceration - but many also argued that it was a much 'kinder' strategy of leprosy management than was enforced isolation. Several prominent British Columbia doctors vigorously supported the use of deportation. Brydone-Jack, was among those who favoured deportation over enforced quarantine. He urged the province to repatriate the Chinese lepers, as their isolation would unnecessarily cost 'the government, or whoever pays, an annual expenditure of at least CAD 200 per year'114. The lepers, Brydone-Jack insisted, would be better off in their homeland, as 'their own people take care of them and make them work for their living' . Now, not only was deportation believed to be cost-effective and humane, but it was also regarded as a more productive form of leprosy management as those who were successfully deported to China could be gainfully employed, rather than sitting idle116.
Because of the domicile changes in Canada's immigration policies, government officials began contemplating other strategies of leprosy management. In 1924, the federal government closed the lazaretto on D'Arcy Island, transferring the remaining six residents to Bentinck Island, a locale closer to the William Head Quarantine Station, where they were to be supervised by the Superintendent of Quarantine under the Dominion Department of Health. Bentinck Island was described as being 'much more satisfactory' as its close proximity to William Head meant that the residents would receive more 'frequent attention'117than they had at D'Arcy Island. It is important to note that the D'Arcy Island lazaretto was closed only one year after the Chinese Exclusion Act118 was passed in Canada. As mentioned earlier, this legislation prohibited almost all immigration from China, and thus drastically limited the numbers of Chinese immigrants residing in Canada. While the Chinese Exclusion Act marked a new and more restrictive era in Canadian immigration policy, it appears that the closure of D'Arcy Island also signified a fresh phase in leprosy control and management, one that was more openly concerned with therapeutic intervention but which continued to draw upon the earlier technologies of punishment and coercion119. Despite the ban on Chinese immigration, however, the residents of the Bentinck Island lazaretto remained predominantly Chinese. The long-standing links between Chineseness and leprosy and between contagion and border control that had been cultivated during the late 19th and early 20th centuries remained firmly ensconced in British Columbia's material and metaphorical landscape until the 1950s, at which time medical therapies replaced confinement, prompting the Department of Health to finally close the lazaretto on Bentinck Island.
David Goldberg and others remind us that race has figured centrally and critically in the making of national imaginaries. 'Given that the conceptual histories of 'race' and 'nation' are so tightly intertwined, and that race has figured so largely in specific conceptions of nationhood,' he argues, 'racist exclusions ... have been not just a product of nation building but often integral to their conception and possibility'120. This paper has endeavored to trace these crucial links between race and nation through the expansion of public health policies and practices at a critical juncture of nation-formation on Canada's west coast. Because health is one of several modern key concepts that orders and structures relationships between self and society as well as self and other121, its interrogation is necessary in understanding the ways in which national-racial projects were historically shaped and articulated. How did racial in/exclusions played out in public health policies? And more specifically, how were fantasies about BC as a European settlement colony imagined and spatially articulated through public health initiatives aimed at managing the loathsome disease of leprosy?
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, leprosy in British Columbia was racialised as a Chinese disease. Within the broader provincial climate of anti-Chinese racism, medical practitioners, bureaucrats, and political officials widely circulated ideas of Chinese immigrants as a 'leprous race' and drew upon these and other discursive constructions in their attempts to implement restrictive immigration policies. Although leprosy was racialised as originating through the bodies of Chinese immigrants in other geographical contexts as well, it was in British Columbia that leprosy was locally constituted as a specifically Chinese disease. Authorities on Canada's west coast feared not only the 'loathsome' scourge but also a more virulent strain that they named 'Chinese leprosy.' These widespread anxieties about racialised contagion were materially realized and cemented in 1891, when five leprosy cases were detected in Victoria's Chinese quarters.
In the introduction to her book Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, Sherene Razack reminds us that 'national mythologies of white settler societies are deeply spatial stories'122. In Canada, national inclusions and exclusions were indeed about space, determining who was worthy of citizenship and thus belonged in the nation and who was undeserving and in need of expulsion. In British Columbia, for instance, quarantine policies, immigration restrictions, and deportation practices were all spatial and legal technologies that enabled authorities to differentiate illusively between desirable/undesirable, healthy/diseased, and citizen/foreigner. While medical practitioners and political authorities conceptualized the containment and physical exclusion of Chinese immigrants as a necessary and appropriate prophylactic response to 'Chinese leprosy,' it is important to keep in mind that the expulsion of Chinese immigrants was not only integral to the care and prevention of leprosy but closely paralleled and merged with ongoing racialised initiatives aimed at making British Columbia into a 'respectable' British settlement colony.
1. I am drawing from a number of scholars who make important links between health, cleanliness and national identity. In the American context, see Shah, Nayan (2001) Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown (Berkeley: University of California Press), especially p 12. Writing about disease and nation in Australia see: Bashford, Alison (2003) Imperial Hygiene: A Critical History of Colonialism, Nationalism, and Public Health (London: Palgrave); Bashford, Alison (2000) ''Is White Australia Possible?' Race, Colonialism and Tropical Medicine' Ethnic and Racial Studies 23,pp 248-271; Bashford, Alison (1998) 'Quarantine and the Imagining of the Australian Nation' Health 2(4), pp 387-402.
2. Foucault, Michel (1980) 'The Politics of Health in the Eighteenth Century' in Gordon, Colin (ed) Power/ Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977 (New York: Patheon Books), p 170. See also the title of Deborah Lupton (1995) The Imperative of Health: Public Health and the Regulated Body (London: Sage).
3. On the deportation of unfit immigrants, see for example, Roberts, Barbara (1988) Whence they Came: Deportation from Canada 1900-1935 (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press); Menzies, Robert (1998) 'Governing Mentalities: The Deportation of 'Insane' and 'Feebleminded' Immigrants out of British Columbia from Confederation to World War II' Canadian Journal of Law and Society 13(2), pp 135-173.
4. See for example a special issue of Positions entitled 'Imperial Hygiene' Positions 6(3). See also Anderson, Warwick (2001) 'Excremental Colonialism: Public Health and the Poetics of Pollution', in Bashford, Alison and Hooker, Claire (eds) Contagion: Historical and Cultural Studies (London & New York: Routledge), pp 76-105; Bashford, supra 1; Gilman, Sander L (1988) Disease and Representation: Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS (Ithaca: Cornell University Press).
5. Lupton, supra 2, p 38.
6. It is important to note that Euro-Canadians did not only fear diseases brought in by certain immigrant populations, but were also concerned about the potential threat that Aboriginal peoples posed to the health of the nation. For a discussion of this point, see Ellen-Kelm, Mary (1998) Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia, 1990-50 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press); Perry, Adele (2001) On the Edge of Empire: Gender, Race, and the Making of British Columbia, 1849 - 1871 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).
7. Similar arguments are made by Strange, Carolyn and Bashford, Alison (forthcoming 2003) in 'Isolation and Exclusion in the Modern World' in Strange, Carolyn and Bashford, Alison (eds) Isolation: Places and Practices of Exclusion (London: Routledge).
8. Little has been written about leprosy in British Columbia. The two notable exceptions include French, Diana (1995) Ideology, Politics, and Power: The Socio-Historical Implications of the Archeology of the Darcy Island Leper Colony 1891-92 (Vancouver: Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia, Unpublished PhD Thesis); and Yorath, Chris (2000) A Measure of Value: The Story of the D'Arcy Island Leper Colony (Victoria: Touchwood).
9. D'Arcy Island was Canada's second lazaretto, but its first 'Chinese' leper colony. The first leper hospital was established in Tracadie, New Brunswick in 1849. For a history of the leper hospital see Losier, Mary Jane (1984) The Children of Lazarus: The Story of the Lazaretto at Tracadie (Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books and Goose Lane Editions).
10. I am using this term based on newspaper coverage on the D'Arcy Island leper colony. Throughout much of this coverage, the island is referred to as an 'island prison'.
11. The most comprehensive account of the relationship between leprosy, race, and colonialism has been written by Gussow, Zachary (1989) Leprosy, Racism, and Public Health: Social Policy in Chronic Disease Control (Boulder: Westview Press). See also Bashford, Alison and Nugent, Maria (2001) 'Leprosy and the Management of Race, Sexuality, and Nation in Tropical Australia' in Bashford, Alison and Hooker, Claire (eds) Contagion: Historical and Cultural Studies (London and New York: Routledge), pp 106-128. It is important to note that the links between race and leprosy have not always been problematised, especially in Canada. For instance, in his book on D'Arcy Island, Chris Yorath argues that the incarceration of the 49 men cannot be adequately explained in terms of racism. See Yorath, supra 8, p 15.
12. Anderson, Kay J (1991) Vancouver's Chinatown: Racial Discourse in Canada, 1875-1980 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press), see especially chs 3 - 4.
13. Gussow, supra 11, p 5.
14. See for example, supra 12. See also Li, Peter (1998) The Chinese in Canada. Second Edition (Toronto: Oxford University Press); Ng, Wing Chung (1999) The Chinese in Vancouver, 1945-1980: The Pursuit of Identity and Power (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press); Roy, Patricia E (1989) A White Man's Province: British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants, 1858-1914 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press).
15. There is an extensive literature that explores this relationship. One of the most influential articles in this area is Anderson, Warwick (1996) 'Immunities of Empire: Race, Disease and the New Tropical Medicine 1900-1920' Bulletin of the History of Medicine 70, pp 94-118. See also Anderson, Warwick (1998) 'Leprosy and Citizenship' Positions 6, pp 707-730; supra note 4.
16. Walker, James W St G (1997) Race, Rights, and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies (Waterloo: Osgoode Society for Legal History, Wilfred Laurier Press), p 57.
17. Menzies, Robert (2002) 'Race, Reason, and Regulation: British Columbia's Mass Exile of Chinese 'Lunatics' Aboard the Empress of Russia, 9 February 1935' in McLaren, John, Menzies, Robert and Chunn, Dorothy e (eds) Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, the Individual and the Law (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), p 197.
18. See Barman, Jean (1991) The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), p 134.
19. Ward, W Peter (1990) White Canada Forever: Popular Attitudes and Public Policy Toward Orientals in British Columbia (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press), p 36.
20. Supra 16, p 57.
21. Supra 17, p 197.
22. Lowe, Lisa (1996) Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press), p 5.
23. Ibid, pp 13 -14.
24. Many Canadian scholars have explained the response to Chinese immigration in terms of exclusion. Lily Cho correctly argues that this approach is far too simplistic, and points instead to the ambivalence that Lisa Lowe and others also document. See Cho, Lily (2002) 'Rereading Chinese Head Tax Racism: Redress, Stereotype, and Antiracist Critical Practice' Essays on Canadian Writing 75, pp 62-84.
25. Aboriginal peoples outnumbered non-Aboriginal peoples in British Columbia until the 1890s. Because colonisation had devastating consequences including the spread of fatal diseases such as smallpox, by 1891 First Nations peoples constituted less than one third of British Columbia's population. On this point see Fisher, Robin (1977) Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), p 201.
26. MacDonald, Robert AJ (1996) Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863-1913 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), p 205.
27. Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration 1885, Ottawa, p 145.
29. See Andracki, Stainslaw (1978) Immigration of Orientals into Canada, With Special Reference to the Chinese (New York: Arno Press), p 1.
30. Supra 16, p 71. For a list of this legislation see especially supra 16, fn 95.
31. Ibid, p 25.
33. Jacobs, Jane M (1996) Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City (London and New York: Routledge), p 14.
34. See McLaren, John (1999) 'Race and the Criminal Justice System in British Columbia 1892-1920: Constructing Chinese Crimes' in Baker, G Blaine and Phillips, Jim (ed) Essays in the History of Canadian Law: Volume XIII: In Honor of RCB Risk (Toronto: The Osgoode Society of Legal History, University of Toronto Press), pp 398-442.
35. Ryder, Bruce (1991) 'Racism and the Constitution: The Constitutional Fate of British Columbia Anti-Asian Immigration Legislation, 1884-1909' Osgoode Hall Law Journal 29, p 638.
36. Supra 16, p 38.
37. Ibid, p 55. See also supra 34.
38. An Act Respecting Chinese Immigration  George V c 38, at 13 -14.
39. The first head tax was for the amount of CAD 50 and was implemented in 1885, followed by an increase to CAD 100 in 1901 and CAD 500 in 1904. For a detailed discussion of this legislation see supra 29.
40. Supra 12, p 29.
41. Wilson, James (1902) Sanitary Inspector of Victoria on the ''Unsanitary Condition' of the Chinese' Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese Immigration, 1902, Ottawa, p 14.
42. David Delaney reminds us that racialised spaces circumscribe and limit the degree to which racially marginal groups can access power, property rights, and services. See Delaney, David (1998) Race, Place, and the Law, 1836-1948 (Austin: University of Texas Press), p. 102.
43. Several people make this point. See for example Buckingham, Jane (2002) Leprosy in Colonial India: Medicine and Confinement (New York: Palgrave), pp 28-29; Gussow, supra 11, pp 18.
44. Gussow, ibid, p 19.
45. Bashford, Imperial Hygiene, ch 6, supra 1.
46. This argument is also put forth by Bashford and Nugent, supra 11.
47. Ibid, p 106.
48. Gussow, supra 11, p 19.
49. There is a prolific literature in this area. See for example, Arnold, David (1993) Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth Century India (Berkeley: University of California Press); Arnold, David (2000) Science, Technology, and Medicine in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); Barkan, Elazar (1992) Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States Between the World Wars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); Gilman, Sander (1985) Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness (Ithaca: Cornell University Press); Ernst, Waltraud and Harris, Bernard (eds) (1999) Race, Science, and Medicine, 1700-1960 (New York and London: Routledge).
50. Much has been written about tropical medicine, race, and colonialism. See for example supra 13; Arnold, David (1996) Warm Climates and Western Medicine: The Emergence of Tropical Medicine 1500-1900 (Amsterdam: Rodopi); Bashford, Alison (2000) ''Is White Australia Possible?'' supra 1; Harrison, Mark (1999) Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment, and British Imperialism in India, 1600-1850 (Dehli: Oxford University Press); Hewa, Soma (1995) Colonialism, Tropical Disease, and Imperial Medicine: Rockefeller Philanthropy in Sri Lanka (Lanham: University Press of America).
51. Patton, Cindy (2002) Globalizing AIDS (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), p 35.
52. Bashford and Nugent, supra 11, p 108. See also Anderson, Warwick (1996) 'Disease, Race, and Empire' Bulletin of Historical Medicine 70, pp 62-67.
53. Bashford and Nugent point out that what surprised doctors the most was that whites contracted leprosy in Australia but not in England. Ibid, p 110. On leprosy control and Europeans in South Africa, see Deacon, Harriet (1996) 'Racial Segregation and Medical Discourse in Nineteeth-Century Cape Town' Journal of Southern African Studies 22(2), pp 287-308.
54. Anderson (1998) 'Leprosy and Citizenship' supra 15, p 708.
55. Gussow, supra 11, p 20.
56. Norway became one of the international leaders in leprosy research and management. For a discussion of this point see Gussow, supra 11, p 74.
57. See Shields, Rob (1991) Places on the Margin: Alternative Geographies of Modernity (New York and London: Routledge), p 258.
58. On leprosy in New Brunswick, see supra 9. See also Losier, Mary Jane (1999) Amanda Viger: Spiritual Leader to New Brunswick's Leprosy Victims, 1845-1906 (Halifax: Nimbus).
59. On the question of whiteness, see Morrison, Toni (1993) Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York: Vintage Books); Roedigger, David R (1999) The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London and New York: Verso).
60. Tache, Joseph-Charles (c 1885) 'Questions Regarding Leprosy: Enquiry Made by the Hawaiian Government' Ottawa, c 1885 CIHM no 91503, 8, emphasis added.
61. See for example supra 11, p 20.
62. Cantlie, James (1897) 'Report on the Conditions under which Leprosy Occurs in China, IndoChina, Malaya, the Archipelago, and Oceania' in Prize Essays on Leprosy, Vol 162 (London: The New Sydenham Society).
63. Supra 1. In British Columbia, see supra 12 ,especially ch 3; supra 19, p 50.
64. Supra 27, p 85.
65. Supra 27, p LIV.
66. For an excellent and comprehensive discussion of health, disease, and colonialism in British Columbia, see Kelm, supra 6.
67. Supra 27, p LXV.
68. Ibid, p 48.
69. Ibid, p 74.
70. Ibid, p 80.
71. Ibid, p 54.
72. Hall, Ernest and Nelson, John (1898) 'The Lepers of D'Arcy Island' The Dominion Medical Monthly and Ontario Medical Journal XI, 6, pp 234-235.
73. Ibid, p 234.
74. Clipping attached to letter from AW Vowell to H Moffat, 30 November 1888. National Archives of Canada [herein after NAC], RG 10, Volume 4045, File 351304, reel c10178.
75. From RF John (Warden) to H Moffat, 10 December 1888. NAC, RG 10, Volume 3808, file 53,058.
76. From Vankoughnet to AW Vowell, 21 February, 1891. NAC, RG 10, Volume 3851, 75815, reel 10150.
77. AW Vowell to Vankoughnet, 9 April 1891. NAC, RG 10, vol. 3851, 75817, reel 10150.
78. MacKay to Vowell, 11 March 1891. NAC, RG 10, Volume 3851, File 75817, reel 10150.
79. Telegram from Vowell to Department of Indian Affairs, Ottawa, 13 June 1900. NAC, RG 10, Volume 3851, File 75817, reel 10150.
80. 'The Lepers of Darcey [sic] Island' Victoria Daily Colonist, 5 July 1899, p 3.
81. The first Canadian Immigration Act was passed in 1869. This legislation prohibited the entry of lunatics and idiots. The 1902 Act was expanded to include anyone suffering from any loathsome, dangerous, or infectious disease. For an excellent discussion of medical inspections and immigration legislation in Canada, see McLaren, Angus (1990) Our Own Master Race: Eugenics in Canada, 1885-1945 (Toronto: McLelland and Stewart).
82. Gussow, supra 11, p 6.
83. Bashford and Nugent, supra, p 11.
84. Supra 27, pp 54-55.
85. Bashford and Nugent, supra 11, p 107.
86. Ibid, pp 110-114.
87. Yorath, supra 8, p 124.
88. When the men were found, they were in a shack behind the Kwong Wo and Company Store on Fisguard Street between Douglas and Government Streets. On this point see Yorath, ibid, p 71.
89. 'Darcey [sic] Island Lazaretto' Colonist, 21 May 1891, p 3.
90. Yorath, supra 8, p59.
91. Fagan to Attorney General. 13 December 1905. British Columbia Archives and Records Service [hereinafter BCARS], GR-0429, Box 13, File 1.
92. Supra 90.
96. For a comprehensive discussion of the Chinese head tax, see supra 29.
97. 'The Lepers' Colonist, 15 April 1892, p 4.
98. Yorath, supra 8, p 124.
99. An Act Respecting Leprosy  6 Ed VII, c 24.
100. For a discussion of liberalism and isolation, see supra 7.
101. Brydone-Jack to Wilson, 15 October 1904. BCARS, Attorney General Correspondence, GR-0429, Box 11, File 5.
103. Supra 92.
105. 'Urges Removal of the Lazaretto' Colonist, 21 March 1904, p 8.
106. Supra 100.
107. On the use of deportation in Canada, see supra 3.
108. McLaren, supra 82.
109. Menzies, supra 3, p 147.
110. 'Shunned Isle Loses Terror for Mankind', Colonist, 17 February 1924, p 1
111. This is an issue that repeatedly comes up in the early correspondence about D'Arcy Island included in the Annual Reports from the William Head Quarantine Station. See Department of Agriculture, William Head Quarantine Station, 1902-1956. BCARS, GR-2005, Reel B08648.
112. Report made by Dr A Watt on 13 March 1913. Four lepers were awaiting deportation and one died. Annual Reports, William Head Quarantine Station, ibid.
113. Yorath, supra 8, p 131.
116. On the idea of productivity and leprosy management see Anderson, 'Leprosy and Citizenship', supra 15.
117. William Head Quarantine Station Annual Report by Dr JD Page, 2 April 1924, p 5. Supra 110.
118.An Act Respecting Chinese Immigration  13-14 George V, c 38.
119. Treatment was of much more concern on Bentinck Island than it was at the D'Arcy Island lazaretto. See supra 111 On this point, see also Strange and Bashford, supra 7.
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