Here is the only known first-person account from a Chinese worker on the famously treacherous parts of transcontinental railways that spanned the North American continent in the nineteenth century. The story of those Chinese workers has been told before, but never in a voice from among their number, never in a voice that lived through the experience. Here is that missing voice, a voice that changes our understanding of the history it tells and that so many believed was lost forever. Dukesang Wong’s written account of life working on the Canadian Pacific Railway, a Gold Mountain life, tells of the punishing work, the comradery, the sickness and starvation, the encounters with Indigenous Peoples, and the dark and shameful history of racism and exploitation that prevailed up and down the North American continent. The Diary of Dukesang Wong includes all the selected entries translated in the mid-1960s by his granddaughter, Wanda Joy Hoe, for an undergraduate sociology paper. Background history and explanations for the diary’s unexplained references are provided by David McIlwraith, the book’s editor, who also considers why the diarist’s voice and other Chinese voices have been silenced for so long.
Wanda Joy Hoe translated selections from the diary of her grandfather, Dukesang Wong, for an undergraduate sociology course at Simon Fraser University in the mid-1960s. She lives in Ottawa.