Canada 150: Yip Sang, the unofficial mayor of Chinatown

JOHN MACKIE, Vancouver Sun, June 13, 2017

You can’t overstate Yip Sang’s importance to Vancouver’s Chinatown. Working as the superintendent for the Kwong On Wo company in the 1880s, he imported 6,000 to 7,000 Chinese labourers to work on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Yip Sang held several positions: bookkeeper, timekeeper and paymaster. Legend has it he used to pay the Chinese CPR workers by riding his horse to the Chinese campsites carrying a sack of money, and a gun, just in case. Read more…

A 1916 photo of Yip Sang, middle, with some of his 24 children and grandchildren. HANDOUT

New plaque commemorates Vancouver Chinatown’s significance in immigrant history

POSTMEDIA NEWS, May 13, 2017

A new plaque unveiled in Vancouver’s Chinatown Saturday commemorates the national historic significance of the Chinese neighbourhood and the role it played in welcoming immigrants who arrived in Canada. Nellie Yip Quong and Wong Foon Sien were also both recognized as key figures in Vancouver’s Chinese history. Saturday’s event featured a lion dance and other cultural performances, and a presentation by North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson. Read more…

Imogene Lim and Mayor Gregor Robertson help unveil a plaque honouring Nellie Yip Quong as a person of the national historic significance in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on May 13. GERRY KAHRMANN / PNG

FROM OPIUM TO FENTANYL: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

RANDY SHORE, March 18, 2017

Vancouver has always had a drug problem. Only the opioids of choice — and the increasingly staggering death toll — have changed over the years.

When the members of the Royal Commission to Investigate Chinese and Japanese Immigration came to Vancouver in 1901, they got an eyeful.
“There are whole rooms of Chinese lying stretched out on beds with the opium apparatus laid out before them — all unmindful that their attitudes and surrounding conditions are being taken note of to assist in keeping the remainder of their countrymen entirely out of Canada,” reported the Vancouver World newspaper.
The so-called “Oriental commission” had hired a photographer and engaged a detective to guide them to the heart of the opiate trade, “the dope dives in the rear of No. 6 Dupont Street.”
The fringes of Chinatown have always been the centre of Canada’s opiate trade. Ever more potent and easily smuggled versions emerged through the decades, culminating in the scourge of synthetic opiates — fentanyl and carfentanil — thousands of times more powerful and many times more deadly than opium. Read more…

Opium smoking was widely popular with early Chinese immigrants to Metro Vancouver, as with these workers taking a puff during a break at Imperial Canning in Richmond in 1913. (City of Richmond Archives)

East Van Chan Joins Hunt for Neon Rooster with Link’s to her Great-Grandfather, Quai Chan

Kim Chan Logan, March 13, 2017

Kim Chan Logan, the BC Liberal Candidate for Vancouver-Kensington, joins search to preserve Chinatown heritage with link to her family. When BC Liberal candidate Kim Chan Logan picked up the Vancouver Sun on February 1, there on the front page staring back at her was a mural of her great-grandfather.
The Vancouver Sun story featured Sai Woo Restaurant owner Salli Pateman, who has launched a public search to locate a large neon rooster sign that hung outside the restaurant’s namesake in the 1950s, as a way to reflect the neighbourhood’s history. The restaurant is located in the Chin Wing Chun Society building and Chan Logan’s great-grandfather, Quai Chan, was one of the original founders of the society and its first treasurer in 1918. As a result, Pateman commissioned a mural of Chan Logan’s great-grandfather to honour the history and culture of the society and neighbourhood. Read more…

Chinese railway worker history comes to life in new Canadian children’s book

June Chua, March 22, 2017

The old saying is better late than never and that’s what playwright George Chiang thought when he finally decided to create the children’s book The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing. “It was sitting on the shelf, and you know what? I’m not going to live forever,” Chiang told me in an interview over Skype from his home in Montreal. The 68-page colour book just came out in early March and the Montreal-based actor/writer is feeling relieved and a little reticent. The book was almost two decades in the making. Read more…

A page of The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing

B.C. legislation to repeal historical wrongs against Chinese-Canadians

SUNNY DHILLON, Mar. 07, 2017

The B.C. government will repeal 19 pieces of historical legislation that contain discriminatory provisions – acts passed between 1881 and 1930 that forbid employing Chinese or Japanese people. The province introduced legislation to remove the discriminatory laws on Tuesday. It identified the acts during a year-long review that stemmed from the province’s pledge to address historical wrongs against Chinese-Canadians. Read more…

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark (right) and Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, arrive to speak at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Nov. 21, 2013. The B.C. government will repeal 19 pieces of historical legislation that contain discriminatory provisions – acts passed between 1881 and 1930 that forbid employing Chinese or Japanese people.
(DARRYL DYCK For The Globe and Mail)

Chinatowns Across The Country Face Off With Gentrification

MELISSA HUNG, March 15, 2017

On a Friday evening in January, people spilled out of a storefront into an alleyway in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Neighborhood business owners, parents with young children, and artists in warm coats chatted with one another. Nearby, youth from a martial arts school practiced with wooden staffs under the alleyway lights.The occasion was the opening of “Eat Chinatown,” a photography exhibit at 41 Ross, a gallery run by the Chinese Culture Center and the Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinatown CDC) in what’s considered the oldest alley in the city. For the exhibit, photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu researched and documented local eateries. The artists focused on legacy businesses that have been in the neighborhood for more than 30 years — such as Capital Restaurant, Hon’s Wun-Tun House, and Eastern Bakery — not new upscale additions, such as Mister Jiu’s, where a five-course tasting menu costs $105. Read more…

Sau Ling, owner of Lucky Creation, photographed as part of Andria Lo’s work from the “Eat Chinatown” exhibit.
Courtesy of Andria Lo

62 Years of State Racism Does Something to You

William Ging Wee Dere, 5 February 2017

In 2017, Canada celebrates its 150th birthday. Lesser known, it also marks the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act, which banned all Chinese immigration to Canada for 24 years. This Act, along with the Head Tax that was imposed on the Chinese starting in 1885, lasted 62 years of Canada’s 150-year history. While we celebrate, we are also reminded that the legacy of racist laws against a community continues long after the laws have been lifted, even at the highest levels of society. Over the years, I’ve tried to tone down my anger against the system, but when this powerful emotion swells up, I try to channel it into positive action. Read more…

William’s father’s head tax certificate

Chinese Cooking in the U.S.: A Short History

By Bob Frost, HistoryAccess.com, 2009

America today has about 41,000 Chinese restaurants, according to one trade magazine, a total that exceeds the combined national presence of McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. Journalist Jennifer 8. Lee makes an interesting point: “If our benchmark for Americanness is apple pie, ask yourself, how often do you eat apple pie? Now how often do you eat Chinese food?” Read more…

A wok holding stir-fried vegetables and meat.
A wok holding stir-fried vegetables and meat.