Although some Chinese emigrated to Trinidad as early as 1806, significant Chinese emigration to Trinidad occured mainly after emancipation. Compared to Indian immigration, the numbers were small, but the terms of indentured labor were the same. Indentured immigration ended in 1866, when the Chinese government required a return passage as part of the package.
For a desciption of a voyage bringing workers to Trinidad from China, check out “Stress of Weather” by Helen Atteck and Philip Atteck. You can find more info at their site.
After 1866, Chinese immigrants continued to trickle in, both from mainland China, and British Guiana, which had received a much larger share of the indentured Chinese. The Chinese laborers, like their Portuguese counterparts, left the plantations at the earliest opportunity to become shopkeepers, gardeners, and butchers. Their establishments were located primarily in rural villages, catering to the working classes. A further wave of immigration occurred after the Chinese revolution in 1911, and remained high through the 1940’s.
The Chinese immigrants came largely from the Hakka and the Punti communities in the Guangdong Province. These immigrants, for the most part, abandoned their language and religions, and any sort of Chinese culture is now almost non-existent in Trinidad. The community is, however, is quite influential, producing the country’s first Governor-General, many successful businessmen and professionals, and several carnival band leaders.
Some prominent Chinese families include, Achong, Aleong, Chin, Fung, Hochoy, Lai Fook, Lee, Lee Hueng, Lee Lum, Scott, and Wong.
Here is a list of books that contain information on Chinese immigration to Trinidad. In some cases I have provided links to resources where I located them. Libraries may be able to acquire them for you on inter-library loan.
Caribbean Asians: Chinese, Indian, and Japanese Experiences in Trinidad and the Dominican Republic, by Roger Sanjek
The Chinese in Trinidad, by Trevor M.Millett
The Chinese in the West Indies, 1806-1995 a documentary history, compiled by Walton Look Lai
Indentured labor, Caribbean sugar: Chinese and Indian migrants to the British West Indies, 1838-1918, by Walton Look Lai
Stress of Weather, by Helen Atteck and Philip Atteck, true story of one of the voyages from China to Trinidad.