Mercantile Mobility: Chinese Merchants in Western Canada (Exhibition opens May 24th)

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Mercantile Mobility
Chinese Merchants in Western Canada

Curated by U of A alumna Helen Kwan Yee Cheung, this exhibition takes us on a journey through time, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century, to explore what happened to Chinese immigrant workers after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which they helped to build. The curator presents a new perspective on the history and contributions of Chinese immigrants in Canada by profiling those workers who started from the ground up to become merchants and considering how they progressed from mere survival to becoming successful as entrepreneurs. This exhibition examines the distinctive socio-economic landscape where this dynamic group carved out their own niche and quietly propelled the Canadian economy; it reveals how they helped to build communities through movements of products at the municipal, provincial, and global levels.  Their business ventures are explored through rare archival documents and images collected over a decade by the curator through a community-based process and through the ongoing acquisition efforts of Bruce Peel Special Collections.

Main Exhibition in Bruce Peel Special Collections (lower level of Rutherford South)
Open 1-4pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (24 May to 30 November 2023)

Summary Exhibition on the main floor of Rutherford South
Open during Rutherford Library hours (24 May to 24 August 2023)

Exhibition Tours
Small group tours are available in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin between 1-4pm on Mondays.  Advance booking is required. To inquire, email

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