Monthly Archives: February 2006

Gung Haggis Fat Choy invades Ottawa: A Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner hosted by Kristin Baetz and Doug McCallum.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy invades Ottawa:
A Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner hosted by Kristin Baetz and Doug McCallum.

Doug McCallum and Kristin Baetz play with Lion head masks in their new Ottawa home, as Doug tries to impersonate Toddish McWong – photo courtesy of Baetz/McCallum.

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy home dinner concept is definitely
spreading.  While I have encouraged my friends in Victoria, Calgary,
Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax to invite friends to
their homes and raise a glass or a pint to Toddish McWong, there have
been some complete strangers sending my their stories and pictures.

Kristin Baetz and Doug McCallum attended the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner in Vancouver, co-hosted by myself, Shelagh Rogers and Tom Chin.  It was the largest one yet at 560 people.  But Kristin and Doug moved to Ottawa,
and so unable to attend the official Gung Haggis Fat Choy
: Toddish
McWong s Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner
. they created their
own dinner party for 30 people with home-made haggis won ton.

Below is the story told through e-mails between Kristin and myself.

Chinese Lions approach the Baetz/McCallum home in Ottawa – reminds me of the 2002 GHFC dinner that almost got cancelled due to a rare Vancouver snow storm – photo courtesy of Baetz/McCallum

Kristin:  Hi Todd….  My partner and I spent the last 4 years in Vancouver, and being of partial to Chinese food and of Scottish
decent, we loved attending your Gung Haggis Fat Choy Party.  It was the highlight of our time in
Vancouver.  We have recently moved to Ottawa
and we decided to host our own Gung Haggis Fat Choy Party in our
house…which, though small with only ~30 people, was amazing.  We had
lion dancers, bagpipers and off course haggis wontons.  We thought you
would like to hear about the! spread of your celebration and enjoy
seeing our pictures.

Todd:  Very Cool…. how did you get
the haggis won tons?  Did you make them yourself?  Did you use straight
haggis or did you add water chestnuts to make them crunchy?

K:  I made them myself.  I was surprised to find that a local butcher
sells Haggis year round by the slice (2inches).  Supposedly lots of
people fry it up like a steak for dinner.  Used a slice to make the
stuffing for our won tons
next year I will remember to add the water
chestnuts.   Surprisingly the actually full haggis was big hit, served
it like you did with lettuce and plum sauce so people could wrap it,
and there was none left by the end of the night.  Who would have

T:  Which dinners did you attend in Vancouver?

K:  We attended the 2005 dinner.

T:  How did you originally hear about Gung Haggis Fat Choy? 

K:  I think we first heard of it on the CBC morning show.  You have
gotten great support from the CBC over the years.  We also saw some of
your posters around town too. 

T:  Can I post your story and pictures to the website?

K:  Sure.  Unfortunately, in all the festivities we
didn't get any shots of our bag-piper lead parade through the house
with the haggis and all the neighborhood kids following, trying to
figure out what was going on.  They weren't too impressed by the
sheep stomach thing.

Chinese Lion Dancers bless the Baetz/McCallum home, and help celebrate the very 1st Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner in Ottawa – photo courtesy of Baetz/McCallum

T:  I hope you read the story about Adam Protter in Whistler BC….

K:  I just did.  He put on a quiet a dinner feast!!  We only had Asian
and Scottish inspired snack food.  Lots of dumplings, satay, stinky
Scottish cheese, Chinese candies, shortbread, gravlax, homemade
egg-rolls and the famous haggis wontons.  And most
lots of different scotches to taste and cases of TsingSao

T:  I have wanted to organize a dinner in Ottawa
for the last year, but haven't been able to make it out.  Featured in
the CBC television peformance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” is
– who lives in Ottawa
Also I have friends Robert Yip who volunteers with Asian Heritage Month
Ottawa, and Pierette a former museum curator.  I would
love to introduce them! to you – and help create an official licenced
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner that can help develop a local fundraiser
for the community – that would spread joy and the values of
inter-cultural harmony and inclusion to the Ottawa area….or you could
just continue having personal home parties, and raise a dram of whiskey
to “Toddish McWong, creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”

We would certainly be up for meeting people and helping organize a real
dinner one day.  As we have created quite a buzz in our neighborhood
(having lion dancers and bagpipers marching out front of your house
certainly lets people know a new crew are in residence) we think that
for next year we will have another, but larger, house party.  We think
we have a lead on a tin flute band and a highland dancer.  Since we
know he has an appropriate outfit, we might even invite Senator Larry
Campbell next year (HAHA). It is all so exciting.

T:  Thank you very much to you, Kristin, and your partner – for bringing a bright start to my day

K:  No problem.   You brought us two of our most memorable evenings one in Vancouver and one in Ottawa.

All the best, Kristin

Burns Club of Vancouver… a traditional Burns dinner in the tradition of the Tarbolton Batchelor's Club

Burns Club of Vancouver… a traditional Burns dinner in the tradition of the Tarbolton Batchelor's Club

Which way do you hold these things? My first time holding bagpipes!  I am used to my accordion – photo Ian Mason.

The Burns Club of Vancouver prides itself on being faithful to the tradition of the Tarbolton Batchelor's Club,
which was founded on 11 November 1780.   Robert Burns and some
friends formed a debating
society to
'forget their cares and labour in mirth and diversion', to promote
friendship and to improve their minds with meaningful debate.  The
Vancouver dinner was held on Monday evening, February 20th, at the
Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver.

I first attended a Burns Supper with the Burns Club of Vancouver in 2004, and wrote this description
Back then, I was a wee bit intimidated by the idea of a Men's only
club… having attended college and university with many
feminists.  But now having also attended their “Big Night” event,
and having been welcomed so warmly by many of the members… I felt
real comfortable.  Without the presence of female partners to
attend to, we were all free to discuss Burns, haggis, and

Andy Miller plays bagpipes in the Vancouver Police Pipe Band – photo Ian Mason

A good feeling of cameraderie filled the room.  Many of the club's
members are retired, and they all carry themselves like grandfatherly
elders – full of wisdom and benevolence.  Indeed, they seemed both
amused and very supportive that I, a youngish Chinese Canadian, is
regularly hosting an annual Robbie Burns Dinner for 400+ people.

There were four tables of ten in the upstairs salon rooms, with an
attended bar featuring Glenlivet and Glenfiddich scotch, as well as
beers and wines.

The host of our table was Dr. Ian Mason, president of the club, who had
spoken at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night at the Vancouver
Public Library on January 16, and also came to attend the Gung Haggis
Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner on January 22nd. 

A piper named Andy, who is now recently retired from theVancouver
Police Pipe band sat on my left.  We talked about Constable Tim
Fanning, of the Vancouver Police Force who plays both highland pipes.
the smaller Irish pipes and penny whistles, and who had appeared in the CBC television special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.” 

Andy Miller shows me how to hold his bagpipes.  They are incredibly ornate.  He is a wonderful piper, and a lovely man, sharing much knowledgable information with me. – photo Ian Mason.

Andy was piped in the haggis, and was followed by other members of our
table… Colin (the sword bearer), Strachan (who was the 2nd sword
bearer), and Donald.  They were joined by the chef (an Asian man!)
who carried the haggis nestled on the plate on a bed of mashed neeps
and tatties.  They paraded around the room and down the centre
aisle to finally set haggis down on the presentation table.  Drams
of whiskey were downed by each of the haggis parade party, then Donald
gave a splendid reading of the Address To A Haggis. 

The haggis was very nice… almost like a meat loaf.  We discussed
the three major types of haggis found in the Vancouver area.  This
one came from North Vancouver on Keith Road, near Queensbury.  The
other types are a spicier haggis with a liver pate quality made by
Peter Black at Park Royal South (which I feature at Gung Haggis Fat
Choy) and a more traditional dryer lard recipe – which I don't
like.  We all had second helpings of the haggis.
A nice roast beef dinner followed the haggis, and the dinner
conversation was very pleasant.  Andy told me about his visits to
Hong Kong, with the Vancouver Police Pipe Band. Donald asked me about
Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  They liked that at the GHFC dinner, we
share the verses of Address To A Haggis with different members of the
audience.  And people were delighted to hear that some of the
Adressees had included Faye Leung (the hat lady), and former MP/MLA Ian
Wadell (actually born in Scotland). 

The formal part of the evening was hosted by Fraser, a wonderful MC
looking very smart in kilt and tuxedo.  A talk about the
Tarbolton's Batchelor's club was first, followed by several other
addresses that included:  a history of Scots in Canada, a Toast to
the Lassies, and finally the “Immortal Memory” of Burns – read by
Robert Armour from our table.

Of the talks, I was most fascinated by the history of Scots in Canada,
which described how many Scots had come to Canada due to the Highland
Clearings, and also Loyalists from the then soon-to-be United
States…  Of course the Scots became adept at exploring Canada,
and helping to develop both the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest
Company.  Everytime I attend an event by the Burns Club of
Vancouver I learn more about Burns and Scottish culture.

These are all good men, who revel at the universal values promoted by Burns in which “a man's a man for all that and all that.”

Kogawa House: The Case to create a literary and historical landmark for Vancouver

Kogawa House: The Case to create a literary and historical landmark for Vancouver

Recently I was asked to state a case for preserving Kogawa House.  You can visit the discussion here on

The best answer is to experience these upcoming events, Vancouver Opera's Naomi's Road

  • Saturday, March 4, 2006 7:00 pm at West Vancouver Memorial Library 
  • March 11, 2006, 7:30pm at Vancouver Japanese Language School Hall

Monday, Feb 27th. Emily Kato book launch – Vancouver Public Library,

I will
MC a special “Emily Kato” book launch for Joy Kogawa.  There will be
special guests and presentations.  This will be the penultimate One Book One Vancouver follow up program as “Emily
Kato” is the reworked (Itsuka) sequel that highlights the JC Redress
movement of the 1980's.

The Case for Preserving Kogawa House…

1 – It is a historical and literary landmark: 
Joy is one of Canada's most influential and honoured authors. 
Vancouver has only two literary landmarks and both are in Stanley Park
– Robbie Burns statue and Pauline Johnson memorial.  Name another
Canadian author listed in BC Almanac's Greatest British Columbians,
Literary Review of Canada, and Quill and Quire's top 100 books? 
Has recieved Order of Canada?
Has had an opera made from their works?

Here's a link for
15 literary and cultural associations across canada that support preservation of kogawa house

Here's a link for
20 Reasons to save Kogawa House

Quote from Margaret Atwood

2 – The house will become a writing centre, and
be restored to it's 1937 to 1942 era while Joy lived in the house as a
young child.  There will be a writers-in-residence program working in
conjunction with writing associations across Canada.  Special
consideration will be considered for “Writers of Conscience”, who write
topic of human rights and racial/cultural harmony/issues.  We will
create programs for author readings and tie in with city cultural

See link for The Land Conservancy

3 – The history of the house itself provides a landmark to the Japanese Canadian internment
– one of Canada's darkest historical periods.  There is no
acknowledgement or memorial in Vancouver for this incident.  Kogawa House
is one of the few houses identified as having been confiscated by the
govt. and the only house identified with a cultural and literary
significance.  This was the house that was taken away.  This was the
house that was yearned for and represented a time before Hate and
Negative-Identity virtually destroyed the JC social structure.  This
was the house that inspired the writing of both Obasan and Naomi's Road.

Here are recent news links  generated after having Joy Kogawa as
keynote speaker at the “Order of Canada” luncheon organized by the Canadian Club, to honour BC's 2005 appointees to the Order of Canada.

Tribute like coming home, Kogawa says
Vancouver Sun (subscription), Canada – 16 Feb 2006

Campaign aims to save BC writer's former home as piece of Canadian, Canada – 19 Feb 2006

CBC Nova Scotia
$1 million needed to save Kogawa House
CBC Nova Scotia, Canada – 8 Feb 2006

Saving the House of Joy, Canada – 13 Feb 2006
Deadline to save Kogawa's old home draws near
Globe and Mail, Canada – 16 Feb 2006

Through the power of Blogging and google searches, and
have been able to help provide information on the continuing saga of
the “Save Kogawa House” campaign.  Media stories have been collected,
and Media reporters have referenced the websites.  Special thanks to Roland Tanglao of for setting up our blogs.

Black History Month Story Telling at Cric? Crac!

Black History Month Story Telling at Cric? Crac!

I really enjoyed being part of the Cric?Crac! Vancouver Storytelling Society's program for January – Haggis & Chopstix  – see my review of the evening at

Here's what they have lined up for this weekend.

Sunday, February 19, 2006:    7.30
Celebration of Black History Month 

featuring  Meguido Zola, a SFU professor, author
and accomplished storyteller,
Thomas Budd, the 14 year old Vancouver teenager with
astounding talent on the African Thumb pianos
and other tellers of folktales.
Hudson Manor, Multicultural Centre, 
1254 West 7th
Avenue/ West off Granville. 

Tim Horton's, Asian Canadians and hockey… very Canadian!

Tim Horton's, Asian Canadians and hockey… very Canadian!

I went to Tim Horton's today with my father…  on Lougheed Highway in Burnaby.  He ordered a small
coffee and a french curl doughnut.  I had a medium double double
with a walnut crunch.

I looked around at the customers – about 10…  All Asian faces…
with one Caucasian in the corner by the door, talking on his cell
phone.  My how the stereotypes of Asians on cell phones have
switched now.  Two policemen came into the coffee shop – one was
Asian.  I think the middle aged couple was speaking in
Korean.  There were students in the other corner.

When I saw the new Tim Horton's television commercial featuring the
Chinese Canadian grandfather bringing “double doubles” to the hockey
rink to sit beside his son, and watch his grandson play… I thought
“Cool!”  Depicting Canadians who just happen to be Asian, doing
Canadian things that just happen to be hockey and going to Tim

Then the flashback of the grandfather telling his young son, not to
play so much hockey – he should study instead.  Very reminescent
of every immigrant group adjusting to Canadian customs such as
hockey.  Reminded me of my own youth…. We weren't great at
hockey either… but largely because there were NO Asian-Canadian
hockey playing role models.  Now there is Paul Kariya, and
Vancouver Canuck's Richard Park.  I hope we will now see more
Asian Canadian hockey playing coffee swiggers in the NHL.

My teenage athletic role models were Bruce Lee and Wayne Wong
– the pioneer freestyle skier.  My brother and I had posters of
each of them…  We even got to meet Wayne Wong too!  There
were K2 “Wongbanger” skis in the basement… I even learned how to the
the “Wongbanger” move…. once…  It was a forward pole
flip.  Once up at Whistler, I tried it in front of my friends…
my tip stuck in the snow, popped my binding, flew into the air, and
landed on my head…  I don't think I ever did it again.

Trivia question:  Who was the first Asian-Canadian hockey player in the NHL?
E-mail me at gunghaggis at yahoo dot com.    I will try
to find an appropriate prize for the most complete and first answers….


russell jung wrote:

Hi My name is Russell and I wanted to respond to Todd`s article posted Feb


When I did the Tim Hortons Commercial
I never thought it would be this big.I`ve been an actor, stuntman and
model since 86 and i always thought that with the asian population in
Van. I would see a lot of work. 

It took a bit of time but this
commercial so far is my highlight, all asian cast, hockey and Tim
Horton`s how canadian and we didn`t wear any glasses either.

So I`m glad that people enjoyed it and put asians and hockey in the same sentence.


Naomi's Road and The World of Opera – this weekend Feb 19th at Vancouver Academy of Music

Naomi's Road and The World of Opera – this weekend Feb 19th at Vancouver Academy of Music 

Here are performances of Naomi's Road and The World of Opera (in 45 Minutes) that are coming soon to your community.

Okay… I love Naomi's Road opera…. here is your latest chance to see it!

Please contact local presenters for tickets.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 2:00 pm
Vancouver Opera Guild presents Naomi's Road
Vancouver Academy of Music
1270 Chestnut Street
Vancouver, BC
Admission: $20 adults, $10 children 12 and under
Tickets and Information: 604-874-4042 or 604-682-2871 ext. 5001 (Pat)

Globe & Mail: Deadline to save Kogawa's old home draws near – by Petti Fong

Globe & Mail: Deadline to save Kogawa's old home draws near – by Petti Fong

Yesterday I got home… after having a snack with
Joy, and watching the filming of the Global News story… I found a
message on my voice mail from Globe & Mail reporter Petti Fong,  
Darn… I missed another media quote opportunity! 

Constable Bob Underhill, Joy Kogawa and Todd Wong at the “Order of Canada / Flag Day” luncheon hosted by The Canadian Club – see story at

I really like that Petti included the quote “If everyone who had read Obasan donated $1, enough money would be raised to preserve the house.

I keep telling people… that I would prefer see 100,000 people donate $10 each rather than one person donate $1 Million Dollars.  Kogawa House is a community house.  It lives in Joy's novels Obasan and Naomi's Road.  It should be the community that saves it, uses it, and cherishes it. 

Please donate to Kogawa House by calling The Land Conservancy
Tell them Toddish McWong sent you….

Vancouver Office
5655 Sperling Avenue
Burnaby, BC V5E 2T2
Phone: 604.733.2313
Fax: 604.299.5054

Deadline to save Kogawa's old home draws near

VANCOUVER — Celebrated Canadian author Joy Kogawa has a deadline hanging over her.

the end of March, she's hoping that enough money will be raised to save
her childhood Vancouver home from demolition and turn it into a
writer-in-residence's retreat.

But with the
deadline just six weeks away, fundraising has reached just $160,000,
far below the $1.25-million needed to buy the house from the current
owners and maintain it as a writers' retreat.

“We're hopeful that more people will hear about this,” said Tamsin Baker, regional manager with the Land Conservancy.

Along with the conservancy, a Save Kogawa House Committee has been helping to raise money.
Ms. Kogawa lived in the house in the Marpole area for just six years,
the bungalow has become a symbol for many far greater than a place
where a writer once lived.
In 1942, Ms. Kogawa and her
family were removed from Vancouver and interned in the Interior town of
Slocan. Like thousands of Japanese-Canadians, their property, including
the house in Marpole, was confiscated.

nearly 100 years, the bungalow has sat on West 64th Avenue. After Ms.
Kogawa's family was forcibly removed during the Second World War, a
succession of owners lived at the house.
But because of its place in literature, through Ms. Kogawa's novel Obasan, the bungalow is anchored in details of a life disturbed suddenly. In Obasan, Ms. Kogawa describes the fruit trees in the back, trees that remain to this day, and she remembers playing in the backyard.

city hall voted last November to delay demolition to allow for heritage
preservation efforts, fundraising began in earnest to keep the house
from being destroyed.

The current owners want to build a new house on the lot.

Baker with the conservancy said donations ranging from $30 to thousands
have come in, but still more is needed. Faculty at Toronto's York
University have pledged $1,000 and urged other faculties across the
country to match or beat their donation.

Yesterday, Ms. Baker said, a $10,000 donation came in.

Kogawa, who talked to students yesterday at a Canadian Club luncheon in
downtown Vancouver, said she's hoping for a miracle. “It's miraculous
enough that the house itself has survived for so long,” she added.

Recently someone suggested to her that if everyone who had read Obasan donated $1, enough money would be raised to preserve the house.

Vancouver Sun: Tribute like coming home, Kogawa says (at Canadian Club “Order of Canada” luncheon)

Vancouver Sun:  Tribute like coming home, Kogawa says
(at Canadian Club “Order of Canada” luncheon)

The Vancouver Sun published a nice story about Joy Kogawa's keynote speech at the Feb 15th, “Order of Canada / Flag Day” luncheon held at the Four Seasons Hotel.  It was a very moving talk, motivated by her conflicting emotions of being in awe of the great Canadians and many appointees of the Order of Canada (which she recieved in 1986) and in wanting to give the many children and students in the room a message for their future. – Todd

Vancouver Sun:  Tribute like coming home, Kogawa says

Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, February 16, 2006

Vancouver writer and poet Joy Kogawa told the Canadian Club
Wednesday she felt she had “come home” when the City of Vancouver chose
her book Obasan as the city's official book.

At the beginning of the Second World War Kogawa was removed from her Vancouver home to a Japanese internment camp in Slocan.

Addressing her remarks to the many students in the audience, Kogawa
said many children grow up feeling they don't belong in Canadian

“Some of us feel we don't belong and we're not as good as the rest
and it's a bit tough when you grow up feeling there is no home for
you,” she said.

“What I was so happy about Obasan being chosen for the one book for
this city was the tremendous sense of welcome from the city from which
I was exiled as a child. I have come home to my home,” she said.

Kogawa lived in a house at 1450 West 64th, and a national campaign
has been launched to raise $1.25 million to buy the property and save
the home from demolition.

The Land Conservancy, which is spearheading the campaign has until
March 30 to raise enough money to save the Kogawa house, pay for
restoration, and establish an endowment so that the house can be used
for a national writers-in-residence program.

Kogawa spoke of the sense of alienation she has experienced even in
1986 on the day she received her Order of Canada when another recipient
waiting with her to receive the award told her that he'd “been to your
beautiful country.”

She said: “I've been to yours too, I was born in it.”

“Perhaps things are different today. In the urban centres we're used
to seeing people of all kinds and cultures and we accept one another
more or less. But if you go into the countryside it might be
different,” she said.

Kogawa said she was in a small town when her son struck up a conversation with someone he met, and introduced her.

“Oh, does she speak English?” she said he was asked.

She told students that the time would come in their lives when they
would know suffering but to trust in their inner light to get through
it. “If you trust that light you are at peace and that passes all
understanding,” she said.


A luncheon Wednesday, with guest speaker Joy Kogawa, honoured recent B.C. appointments to the Order of Canada.