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Seven different kinds of striped and checked cotton cloth are combined in this vest. The fabrics look machine- rather than hand-woven, and although the sewing is careful, it indicates the vest was constructed on a domestic sewing machine. The tension of the stitches is irregular and there is evidence of unpicking and re-sewing in the stitch lines.

Where was this textile created?

World map preview image

Old World to New World

Asia: East Asia, China or Canada
c. 1921
Woven cotton pieced and sewn, shell buttons
52 cm x 40 cm
Gift of Lonnie Seguin
T93.0117 Textile Museum of Canada

While the style of this simple man’s vest is Western, the fabric recalls the long Chinese tradition of patterning cloth with indigo blue and white. After paying the head tax due under the Chinese Immigration Act of the time, a woman by the name of Ho See (whose son owned the vest) sailed to Victoria, British Columbia and entered Canada in August, 1921.

The maker of this vest travelled halfway around the world and was required to pay the Canadian government $500 for permission to stay in Canada. In 2002, a group of Chinese immigrants and their descendants began a class action lawsuit against the Canadian government for reparation and a formal apology.

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