Asiatic Exclusion League

Building at 130 Powell Street damaged during the “Anti-Asiatic” riots of September, 1907. UBC Archives, JCPC_ 36_017

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Asiatic Exclusion League | organisation, historical | A group of white supremacists that grew to 40,000 British Columbian members during the first half of the 20th century. Founded in 1907 – less than a month before the so-called “Anti-Asiatic” riots that vandalized businesses and terrorized residents in Chinatown and Japantown for two days and nights – the affiliation’s goal was to exclude Korean, Japanese, Chinese and South Asian immigration in order to somehow ensure a mythical “White Canada”. Its lobbying efforts were instrumental in the passage of the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act, which stopped nearly all Chinese immigration to Canada for a quarter century.

The Asiatic Exclusion League was influential in Vancouver’s politics and drew its membership, leadership and enabling sympathies from local unions, clergy, police, military, City Hall (the Mayor and several Councillors were founding members), both the provincial and federal governments and even local media outlets like The Vancouver World (purchased by the Vancouver Sun in 1924), which bragged in an editorial that it was “the one daily paper in Vancouver which has consistently set its face against the Orientals.”

Usage: “I thought the Asiatic Exclusion League was unrepeatable history until I started reading the comments below local real estate news stories…”

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