Monthly Archives: March 2005

“Here Be Dragons”: a meeting of bagpipes and a Cree Indian in Peter C. Newman's new book

Did bagpipes, the Hudson's Bay Company and Cree Indians ever meet? 

Here's a story sent to me by Heather Pawsey – that gorgeous blonde opera soprano who sings in French, Italian, German, Gaelic and Mandarin.  Also featured in the Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

"In Peter C. Newman's latest boook, Here be Dragons, the following
descriptive passage might interest Scottish types.  Newman describes a
Hudson's Bay Company executive (from Scotland, of course) who toured
the North with his personal piper.  A Cree Indian, on hearing the
bagpipes for the first time, described the occasion to his Chief:
"One white man was dressed like a woman, in a skirt of many colours. 
He had whiskers growing from his belt and fancy leggings.  He carried a
black swan which had many legs with ribbons tied to them.  The swan's
body he put under his arm upside down then put its head in his mouth
and bit it.  At the same time, he pinched its neck with his fingers and
squeezed the body under his arm until it made a terrible noise."

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat a favorite in Vancouver's St. Patrick's Day parade

St. Paddy's Day Parade in Vancouver, on a Sunday afternoon. Where elese
can you see a dragon boat dressed up as a float with a kilted Chinese
Lion twirling a dragon boat paddle?

Trev Sue-A-Quan, Todd Wong & Dave Samis pose with the decorated dragon boat – photo Adrianna Ermie

The 2nd Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is the crown jewel of Celtic Fest Vancouver
– celebrating all things celtic.  Gung Haggis Fat Choy was asked
last year to be a part of it, and so a dragon boat float was created by
GHFC founder Todd Wong, aka “Toddish McWong.”   While McWong
is more known for combining Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year into
a potpouri of cultural fusion, he brought his playfulness to St.
Patrick's Day with great enthusism and new surprises for the 2005

Celebrity paddlers were Vancouver city councillor Ellen Woodworth,
loudly banging the drum at the head of the boat.  CBC Radio
reporter/host Margaret “Maggie” Gallagher looked exquisite in a gold
and green Chinese jacket, holding a green paddle.  Trev
Sue-A-Quan, from Dragon Boat Association, swayed to the music while
holding the steering oar at the back of the boat.  Team paddler
Dave Samis waved to the crowd while Deb Martin held a yellow chinese
dragon puppet to the delight of all the children lining Granville

City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth bangs the drum as dancer Adrianna
Ermie and CBC Radio broadcaster Margaret Gallagher and team paddler
Dave Samis smile for the camera
– photo Todd Wong

And preceding this dragon boat on a trailer concoction was Highland
Dancer Adrian Elmie wearing her green and white Irish Jig costume,
closely followed by a kilted character wearing a traditional Chinese
lion head mask.  Of course inside the mask was Todd Wong,
reprising his “Gung Haggis” character, now transforming this strange
sight into an interactive crowd pleaser.

Trev Sue-A-Quan waves to the crowd while “steering the dragon boat” for the St. Patrick's Day parade – photo Nick Lum

more later…

My cousin… Tracey Hinder wins CanSpell regional spelling bee in Vacouver

Here's a
story about my 2nd cousin Tracey Hinder, my mom's cousin's
daughter.  Tracey is an amazing youngster with an extraordinary
aptitude for learning and meeting challenges…


West Vancouver Grade 8 student wins regional spelling bee
Doug Ward
Vancouver Sun

1 | 2 | NEXT >>
CREDIT: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun
COULD YOU SPELL APOTHEOSIS?: Winner Tracey Hinder will compete in a national bee next month in Ottawa.

West Vancouver student Tracey Hinder emerged as the apotheosis of
cool under pressure Sunday, winning the CanWest CanSpell regional
spelling bee, after the capitulation of Delta student Nicaela Weigel in
the event's closing spell-off.

Hinder, a 13-year-old Grade 8
student at West Vancouver Secondary, spelled 'capitulation' correctly
and then won by nailing the word apotheosis at the Vancouver Sun
provincial final held at the Stanley Theatre.

“I studied so many
words, but I think I did study 'apotheosis' once,” Hinder said
afterwards. “I also studied 'capitulation' on Saturday.”

victory was a dramatic ending to four hours of extreme spelling that
began with 50 competitors from schools around B.C., except for
Vancouver Island.

The words given by pronouncer Kirk LaPointe,
managing editor of The Vancouver Sun, became progressively more
difficult during the contest as the number of competitors dwindled to
the final two.

Some of the students held the microphone
confidently, and easily recalled the right letters. Others spelled the
words slowly and with trepidation, clearly hoping that their letters
would match the pronunciation of a word they couldn't totally remember.
Some looked at the three-member panel of judges with surprise when the
bell that signals a mistake did not ring.

Both Hinder and
runner-up Weigel will be competing in the CanWest CanSpell National
Spelling Bee in Ottawa on April 16 for the first-place prize of a
$10,000 educational fund and their name etched on the CanWest CanSpell

And Hinder will be one of 11 regional winners across Canada
who will compete later in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in
Washington, D.C.

Tristan Brett, from Eugene Reimer middle school
in Abbotsford, looked strong throughout the event, but finished third
after being hit with the arcane word prosody, which means the study of
the metrical structure of verse.

Runner-up Weigel said she was
happy to have finished second against a field of mostly older
competitors. She had studied the fatal word capitulation, but her
memory failed her.

“Nicaela never spelled that word
[capitulation] wrong before,” said her mother, Marie Weigel. “But
that's all right. Ottawa is good.

“When it got down to the two
competitors, I could see her nerves getting to her. But good for her,
she's 11. She can compete in this for two more years.”

Weigel is no stranger to success. Last year, Nicaela and her twin
sister, Shelbie, played the same character in a TV movie The Five
People You Meet In Heaven, based on the novel of the same name by Mitch

Todd Weigel said he thought his daughter would do well:
“What can I say: I'm an extremely proud father. I'm holding back the

“But she's an overachiever. I thought she would get pretty far. But all the sisters, they really drive each other.”

memory and hard work were the key factors, luck played a role too. As
in any spelling bee, some words were tougher than others.

The young spellers also had to keep their composure while four TV cameras moved around covering every moment.

<< PREVIOUS | 1 | 2
CREDIT: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun
Tracey Hinder, (right) placed first in the CanSpell contest on Sunday. Nicaela Weigel was second.

“You have to sort of pretend there is no camera there. It makes it
easier for you to spell,” said Rachel Davidson of Collingwood School in
West Vancouver, who fell out in the third round.

A few of the
participants were visibly crestfallen when they mis-spelled a word and
found themselves walking off the stage. They were quickly ushered
downstairs into a makeshift comfort room where they were offered
solace, along with drinks and snacks.

“Oh, I'm so stupid. I don't
know how I missed that,” lamented Oliver Telfor to a volunteer
comforter, who assured the West Sechelt Elementary student that he
wasn't stupid.

As Telfor explained how he knew he had erred even
before completing his word, another one of the fallen, Tori Caswell of
Pacific Academy in Surrey, arrived and shouted: “I screwed up on jerkin
— jerkin!

“But this is just for fun. And I like reading, so I got extra reading privileges.”

Dodds, of Vancouver, was angry with his abrupt exit late in the
competition. “I'm disappointed and surprised. I'm feeling mad at

Tears welled in the eyes of Brandon Sanderson, a
precocious 10-year-old from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Vancouver who
had a smile all afternoon until after his last word.

admitted later that he had guessed his way through at least one other
word, so he was pleased to have made it to round five.

“Hopefully, I'll get this far again next year,” he said.


Sunday's winning word:


Some other tough ones from the competition:







Ran with fact box “Challenging…”, which has been appended
to the end of the story.

© The Vancouver Sun 2005

Join the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float – for the 2nd Annual Vancouver St. Patrick's Day Parade

Join the St. Patrick's Day Parade and be part of Gung Haggis Fat Choy's dragon boat float.

Last year, Gung Haggis Fat Choy was asked to take part in the inaugural St. Patrick's Day Parade for 
Celtic Fest Vancouver
celebrating all things celtic in Vancouver BC.  The parade
organizers wanted something multicultural, and they loved the way Gung
Haggis Fat Choy fused together Chinese and Scottish cultures in a fun
inclusive way.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy, up to this point, had been a dinner, a dragon
boat team, and a CBC television performance special.  How could it
be a parade entry?  Cultural fusion musicians? 

“How about a dragon boat float,” I suggested.  And they LOVED
it!  We created one of the better float entries according to Grand
Parade Marshall Steve McVittie and Festival Organizer Warren
Purchase.  And thus was born, the concept of dragon boats for
parade entries in Vancouver.

For 2005, we will have special guests Vancouver City Counsellor Ellen Woodsworth who will be wearing “something outrageously Irish” she promises. 

Also joining us will be our favourite Chi-rish person, Margaret Gallager from CBC Radio's Early Edition, referring to her Chinese Malaysian and Irish American parentage.

This parade entry is a partnership with Dragon Boat Association. organizers of the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race.

We will also try to create the world's first dragon boat paddle marching drill team.

We are parade entry #83, and will meet from 10:00am on Richards St.
between Davie St. and Drake St.  The parade starts at 11am and
goes on until 1pm. 

Join us by calling Todd Wong at 604-987-7124

See pictures of the 2004 St. Patrick's Day Parade pictures for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float.

Join CBC Radio's Margaret Gallagher & Gung Haggis Fat CHoy in the St. Patrick's Day parade on a dragon boat float

“I'll be celebrating my dual heritage,” said  reporter Margaret Gallager on CBC Radio's Early Edition with host Rick Cluff, referring to her Chinese Malaysian and Irish American parentage.

Every Friday morning on CBC Radio 690 AM, Margaret gives a run down on
great weekend events in a segment called “690 to Go” and often gives
away a prize package for a lucky listener with the right answer to a
trivia question (which I won 2 weeks ago!)

Thursday Morning on March 19th, “Maggie Gallagher,”  as she called
herself, said that she would actually be in Vancouver's 2nd annual St.
Patrick's Day Parade, as part of Celtic Fest Vancouver – celebrating all things celtic!”

“And… I'm going to be on a dragon boat… of all things.  It's just part of Gung Haggis Fat Choy – of course!”

Joining Margaret on the float will be Vancouver City Counsellor Ellen Woodsworth

See pictures of the 2004 St. Patrick's Day Parade pictures for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float.