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Behind the Stories at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre

By Carolyn B. Heller, MONTECRISTO Magazine, Mar 17 2022

In the 1930s, Robert Wong and his brother Tommy built an airplane in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Not a model plane, but an actual 17-foot-long aircraft, dubbed the “Sea Scout,” constructed in wood, and powered by an automobile engine, that Robert flew from Vancouver’s Sea Island. The Wongs were still in high school, when Robert ordered the plans to build a plane; the brothers did the initial work on their craft in their family’s Chinatown apartment.

The tale of the Wong brothers’ aviation adventures is just one of many stories about the people and history of Vancouver’s Chinatown that are shared in the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, which opened in November in the former Bank of Montreal Building on East Pender Street. Unlike a more traditional museum that focuses on artifacts or objects, the Storytelling Centre highlights personal stories…Read More

Plane Builders Robert Wong and Tommy Wong. Photo courtesy of Evelyn Wong.

A Family’s Quarantine-Kitchen Bonding in “Have You Eaten”

By Han Zhang, Film by Lina Li, The New Yorker, December 18, 2020

In the first few months of quarantine, Lina Li was especially well fed. In mid-March, Li, a junior at Ryerson University, in Toronto, decamped from her apartment downtown and moved back to her parents’ house in the suburban town of Thornhill, about half an hour’s drive from the city. Li’s mother, Yan Gao, was prepared for the lockdown—in January, after learning about the spread of the coronavirus in China, she stocked her pantry with staples: for starters, four bottles of soy sauce and ten bags of jasmine rice; a restaurateur friend supplied brisket, for the freezer. The only thing Gao didn’t stock up on was vegetables—she doesn’t believe in frozen greens. She grows zucchini, cucumbers, green onions, chives, and tomatoes in her garden. The pandemic brought Gao’s two adult daughters and her husband—who, for decades, had split his time between Beijing and Toronto for business—under one roof. The family played board games, watched movies, and took daily walks together—that is, between gulping down the elaborate meals that Gao whipped up. Read more…

Growing Up Chinese Canadian: A Century of Stories

By Christopher Cheung, Jul 3 2017 |

“You’re so Asian!”
“You’re so white-washed!”
Natalie Poon remembers hearing this a lot in her Chinese Canadian peer group when she started high school a decade ago in Richmond, a city bordering Vancouver. Whether you find this language funny or offensive, Poon and her peers consider it an easy way to talk about cultural differences. “That’s just how we talked,” she said. “It’s not meant to be discriminatory.” Read more…

Natalie Poon, age 4, practising her alphabet on one of many plane rides she took during her childhood between Richmond and Hong Kong. Photo by Christopher Cheung.

Canadian Wongs get their own crest

By TONY WONG, Aug. 3, 2011

Wongs of Canada – unite! You now have your own coat of arms.
The Canadian Heraldic Authority has granted permission for the Wong Kung Har Wun Sun Association (also known as the Wong association of Ontario) to have their own unique family symbol. Read more…

The new Wong coat of arms will be officially unveiled at a convention for more than a thousand Wongs next week in Toronto.  (SPECIAL TO THE TORONTO STAR)
The new Wong coat of arms will be officially unveiled at a convention for more than a thousand Wongs next week in Toronto. (SPECIAL TO THE TORONTO STAR)
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