A Sojourner’s Life

Although the Newfoundland Head Tax legislation did not ban Chinese women from entering, the high cost of the tax meant that very few of the Chinese men brought female family members to Newfoundland. This meant that the Chinese community in Newfoundland before 1949 consisted primarily of "sojourners," men who immigrated without their families. A few Chinese men married local Newfoundland-born women and raised children with them. Most of the Chinese immigrant men, however, were married to women in China, whom they supported with their earnings in Newfoundland. Some would make visits back to China every few years, sometimes bringing their sons or grandsons with them to Newfoundland when they returned.

As sojourners in Newfoundland, the Chinese men worked long hours, with little time for recreation. A few joined local Christian churches, but most spent their spare hours with their fellow countrymen. Some joined one of two clan associations, the Hong Heing Society and the Tai Mei Society that formed in Newfoundland. These benevolent associations provided social activities and fellowship, as well as support for new Chinese immigrants.

Tai Mei Society