Traveling exhibit at Hell’s Gate Airtram

Display brings to life Chinese legacy in the Fraser Canyon

Debbie McKinney showcases the new Chinese Legacies: Building the Canadian Pacific Railway exhibit at Hell’s Gate Airtram on opening day last Friday

A new exhibit at Hell’s Gate Airtram brings to life a piece of Fraser Canyon history.

Chinese Legacies: Building the Canadian Pacific Railway highlights the contributions of Chinese labourers who helped build the CPR from Port Moody to Craigellachie in the 1880s. It features a campsite diorama, slide show of historical photographs, and several artifacts.

“It tells the story of them coming here to look for gold in the beginning, building the railway, and all the deadly working conditions and disease that they had to face while they were here,” said Debbie McKinney, with Hell’s Gate Airtram. “For every mile of track laid in the Fraser Canyon, four lives were lost.”

The exhibit also draws attention to the discrimination that was faced by the Chinese labourers at the time, the lasting impact railway construction had on their lives and their contribution to Canadian national development. Many of the workers went on to become entrepreneurs.

Chinese Legacies: Building the Canadian Pacific Railway is a traveling exhibit on loan to Hell’s Gate Airtram this season from Revelstoke Railway Museum. It has been enhanced by artifacts from Yale Historic Site, Minter Gardens, Burnaby Village Museum, and the UBC Chung Collection.

“We didn’t want it to be the exact same exhibit all the time in case other people have seen it before,” said McKinney.

The exhibit is free with admission to Hell’s Gate Airtram. For more information, visit www.hellsgateairtram.com or call 604-867-9277.

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