Between 1880 and 1885, 17,000 men from Guangdong province in China worked through the Rocky Mountains section of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in intense danger and social isolation. More than 4,000 Chinese workers died during this period; survivors had no means of going back to China and many drifted for years, destitute, along the completed track, some ending up in Toronto.
Census data show that, from 1911 to 1941, Toronto had the third most populous Chinese community in Canada, after Vancouver and Victoria. To oppose the 1923 Canadian law that blocked Chinese immigration, a national organization emerged, based in Toronto. In 1989, members of Toronto’s Chinese community dedicated an immense sculpture by Eldon Garnett to the Chinese railway workers.