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Chinese Bunkhouse

Built in 1915 to house Chinese cannery workers at Knight Inlet in Northern BC, this building was transferred to Britannia Shipyards by water.

Aged wooden triple bunk bed with stack of boxes standing against it, and wooden crate beside it on the floor.

This is the last surviving Chinese Bunkhouse on the west coast. The large, two-storey building originally housed Chinese workers at the Glendale Cannery located in Knight Inlet, BC.  It was built circa 1915 by the ABC Packing Company, who owned the Glendale operation.

The first floor served as a mess hall, where up to 100 Chinese men would gather to eat and socialize. Located on the second floor were the cramped sleeping quarters that were occupied during the summer months while the men worked in the local canneries. The accommodations were simple, and no thought was given to comfort or cultural preferences. The workers were organized through Chinese labour bosses, who negotiated with the canning companies for surprisingly low wages and stringent meal provisions each season.

The permanent exhibit on the upper level of the Chinese Bunkhouse focuses on the stories of hardship and hope that the Chinese men experienced as they laboured in Steveston canneries from the late 1880s into the 1920s. The exhibit explores a wide range of topics: the cannery jobs, the role of the Chinese contractor and cook, the experience of a Chinese migrant worker traveling from overseas, the initial draw of the gold rush and railroad jobs, Chinese merchants, Chinatowns, immigration, and discrimination. A 9-minute documentary video, Hardship and Hope: The Chinese Cannery Workers of Steveston, which poignantly outlines the experience of these men in Canada, is also on view in the exhibit.

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The second floor of this historic building is only accessible to visitors via stairs. Please ask an interpreter for information about the exhibit on the upper floor, including a slide show and video to illustrate what is on view upstairs.