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Canada/Covers & Postmarks : Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

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Bobstamp
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15 Nov 2014
06:57:23pm
At VANPEX 2013 I purchased an interesting shipping tag (which I have shown you before in another thread). It was used to post a bag of cash from the Bank of Nova Scotia in Vancouver to the pulp and paper mill at Woodfibre, 48 km north of Vancouver on the isolated northwestern shore of Howe Sound. It was postmarked 1945 or 1946 — the strike is not I might not have purchased the shipping tag except for the handwritten notation, "CHINESE PAYROLL":

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I had never heard of Woodfibre, but I was intrigued by the "CHINESE PAYROLL" notation. Clearly there were Chinese employees at the Woodfibre mill, but I had no idea why their payroll had to be separate from that of White workers. So I decided to look into it. What I learned does not exactly put Canada and British Columbia in a good light. It turns out that there were relatively few Asians working in forestry in BC, and that in the years before the Second World War the forest industry was working hard to eliminate them altogether in favour of white Canadian employees. But Asians did at least have a toehold in the industry, and the mill at Woodfibre employed several Japanese men, whose families lived with them. Then, in 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; the Canadian government responded by declaring war on Japan and "identifying" all Japanese living in Canada (many of whom had been born here) as "enemy aliens"). There followed a truly shameful period of Canadian history, matched by similar occurrences in the United States. What happened to Japanese Canadians wasn't a lot different in intent than what happened to millions of people in Europe during the Holocaust: there were no death camps, but all all Japanese in BC were sent to internment camps outside a restricted zone that extended 100 miles inland from the coast. They were able to take a few personal belongings that they could carry with them, but the remainder of their personal belongings, including their homes and their businesses — including hundreds of commercial fishing boats, were sold by the government to white Canadians.

In my newest web page, Payday at Woodfibre, I have attempted to tell the wide-ranging story of Asians in BC's forest industry, as well as the history of Woodfibre, which lasted almost a hundred years and is today being proposed, ironically, as a port for the shipment of liquid natural gas to China. One of the things I learned was that hundreds of Chinese were employed by BC's forest industry I feel a sort of kinship with the people of Woodfibre. Although I've never lived in a company town, I was very familiar with Hurley, New Mexico, where my grandparents lived. Hurley was owned by Kennecott Copper Corp., and shared many similarities to Woodfibre, including the partial segregation of races.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot closer to understanding the meaning of "CHINESE PAYROLL," but it looks like the Chinese employees at Woodfibre were under the control of a tong, an association that served to improve life for Chinese immigrants, who probably didn't speak English.

Payday at Woodfibre is the most complete history of Woodfibre on the internet, and the only one that reveals even part of the story of Woodfibre's Japanese and Chinese workers. Some of the text is supported by appropriate philatelic images and commentary. I hope you find it worthwhile. If you note any typos or other problems, please feel free to contact me.

Bob


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Jeredutt3
16 Nov 2014
01:57:54pm
re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

Fantastic Bob !!! Really interesting stuff. Photos and postal pieces were a nice touch to the article. I appreciate the effort it takes to put something like that together !

Thx ! Jere

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CapeStampMan
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Mike
16 Nov 2014
03:43:10pm
re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

Bob,
Yes, I agree with Jere, you do have a great talent for your stories and believe I have read all of them. I do have a problem reading the captions under the pictures though, maybe a darker color would help.
Mike

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grorod
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16 Nov 2014
04:18:32pm
re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

Hi Bob
Wow, great research, super article.
Gro

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Bobstamp
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16 Nov 2014
07:15:26pm
re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

Thanks for the responses.

I'm not sure what to say about the image captions. No one has ever mentioned before that they're not sufficiently readable. Could it be that you need to change your screen resolution to provide larger type? Or, perhaps, just increase the font size.

This what one of the captions looks like on my computer at the moment,

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and this is what it looks like with the font size boosted a bit,

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Please let me know if that helps. Perhaps you could provide a screenshot of a "problem caption"?

Bob


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d1stamper
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16 Nov 2014
08:25:07pm

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re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

The original looks fine to me. I would not use the larger type. You may want to change the font color to make it a little darker. This would help with screens where the color is a little off color.

Doug

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BeeSee
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Langley, BC
17 Nov 2014
11:42:42am
re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

Very nice presentation. It is great story inspired by a small philatelic piece!

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CapeStampMan
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Mike
19 Nov 2014
03:33:05pm
re: Payday at Woodfibre: ~ A bag of cash for Chinese workers at BC’s Woodfibre pulp and paper mill

Wow, what a difference. It must be these old, used and abused eyes, but that enlargement was very helpful, even in the Gray color. Today I bought a new computer, to me at least, so that may have something to do with it. I did change the font and size also, maybe that helped. I'm having to get these eyes check, along with a new script for glasses, more often than it used to be. Can't figure it out, I am only 39, aren't I? Laughing
(it won't be long until the 39th anniversary of my 39th birthday will be celebrated )Sad
Mike

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