Hard is the Journey

Stories of Chinese Settlement in BC’s Kootenays

Lily Chow

In Hard is the Journey, award-winning historian and researcher Lily Chow shares the difficult history of Chinese Canadians in the Kootenay. She unearths the racism of early newspapers that portrayed Chinese immigrants as dirty, sinister, and lethargic people not fit to live in BC and uncovers the history of the Chinese labourers who completed the deadly work of blazing the Dewdney Trail from Hope to Kootenay only to be dismissed, without any compensation, as soon as the project was completed.  She also offers an intimate and inspiring look into the many ways Chinese immigrants survived, finding community, building resilience, and preserving their culture. 

Piecing together interviews with Kootenay residents and descendents of Chinese immigrants, government records and documents, and early newspaper articles, Chow bravely exposes dark parts of BC’s history while shedding light on the struggles but also resilience and untold accomplishments of the Chinese immigrants who risked everything and often lost their lives in building the Canada we know today. Hard is the Journey is Chow’s fourth book on the history of Chinese Canadians.