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July 1, 2023 - End of 2024 Vancouver

The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act

Paper Trail Hero Placeholder v2

An exhibition that commemorates 100 years since the passing of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, known also as the Chinese Exclusion Act in Canada.

The exhibition features hundreds of certificates of identity documents (C.I. certificates) used to track Chinese Canadians during the Chinese Immigration Act – the most ever publicly displayed in an exhibition. The papers also were a constant reminder of a second-class status in Canada.

In partnership with the Chinese Canadian Military Museum and curated by Catherine Clement, this community-sourced exhibition, with a national focus, probes the nature of paperwork and documentation over the contested terrain of history, with a diverse array of families of Chinese descent, from across Canada contributing to the exhibition.

Curator: Catherine Clement

Digital Archive: Paper Trail Collection at UBC Library, Rare Books and Special Collections

 C.I. Certificates
C.I. Certificates - special identity documents issued by the government to Chinese residents.

Research Room

Location: Ground floor beside Reception [please check-in at the front desk]
General hours:
Visitors can use the Research Room during the museum’s general hours of operation from Wednesday - Friday, 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. If you need general assistance, you can ask one of our Museum Assistants at the front desk.

Office hours:

  • Saturdays, 1:00-5:00 P.M.

  • Sundays, 2:00-5:00 P.M.

Looking to find your family’s own paper trail? The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act’s curatorial assistant, Naomi Louie, and Museum Assistant, Andrew Marchese, will be providing research assistance through the Research Room. They will help:
- Interpret Chinese Immigration (C.I.) Certificates
- Explore digital archival materials
- Assist in researching Chinese Canadian history

To schedule an appointment or contact them outside of office hours, email (There is no fee associated with this support.)

Submit a C.I. Certificate!
Interested in submitting a scanned C.I. certificate to add to the The Paper Trail collection online? Contact Naomi Louie at for more information.

Exhibition Supporters

Paper Trail Supporters

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Where is this exhibition?

Wing Sang Building, Vancouver's Chinatown

Wing Sang Building, Vancouver's Chinatown

51 E Pender St, Vancouver BC V6A 1S9

The Chinese Canadian Museum is now permanently at home inside the Wing Sang Building. Originally a two-storey structure built in 1889 by merchant Yip Sang, the Wing Sang Building was later expanded in 1901 and 1912, and remains the oldest building in Vancouver’s Chinatown.