Monthly Archives: July 2006

Communique straight from Haggis Land (from Alexander Hutchinson)

Communique straight from Haggis Land
(from Alexander Hutchinson)

The fame of Gung Haggis Fat Choy is consistently growing.  Here is
an example of appreciation from an ex-Scots, ex-Canadian – who really
appreciates the intercultural directions of Gung Haggis Fat Choy –
which celebrates the Chinese and Scottish heritage of Canada +
everything in between & everything beyond!

Please welcome Alexander Hutchinson as a guest on
Mr. Hutchinson has written a poem about Haggis titled “Surprise Surprise”  (see attachment).
He has also sent me a cover from his book, and a picture of a haggis
wearing a kilt.  (I will have to send the picture to my kilted
mates on

It seems a fitting time for Mr. Hutchinson to discover Gung Haggis Fat
Choy and to contact me 40 years after his first arrival in Victoria BC,
Canada – back on August 31, 1966.  Victoria is a wonderful city
that plays up its British heritage with high tea at the Empress Hotel,
double decker buses, and all that stuff.  However, Victoria is
also the city that at one point had the largest Chinatown in North
America, where my father's father once ran the largest Chinese merchant
store, and where both my father and my mother's mother were botn in
1925, and 1910.

British Columbia is indeed a place where Scots and Chinese have met,
collided, and colluded.  I hope to soon be hosting a Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner in Victoria sometime soon.  And maybe if Mr.
Hutchinson makes the trip to Victoria for his anniversary…  we
will have a special little dinner.  In the mean time, please enjoy
his letter and his poem.

Yo — Hullo, and Greetings to the Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2006 sponsors
from the Land of Haggis, cradle of Burns.  This is a concept dear to my
heart.  As you will see from the attached piece, my poem “Surprise,
has been in circulation now for more than 21 years (and a
published version came out in 1990  – I'll attach some images if I can
scan them
It can be updated of course – so I
don't see why I couldn't add gung haggis fat choy – though there is
already a reference to ancient Chinese practice. – “100 year -old Kung
Po haggis”!
I returned to Scotland from
Canada in 1984 – had been living on Vancouver Island since 1966.  The
haggis poem was the first piece I wrote on return – and it got a hot
reception.. There is a story about the “invention” of the vegetarian
haggis – but I'll save that for later.
God, I
would love to be back on the west coast.  Shouldn't be long – I'm due a
visit.  I am a Canadian citizen as well as Scottish – my kids are
too. The 40th anniversary of my first arrival is August 31st (Labour
Day 1966).  “Good Vibrations” was on the radio all the time..
I walked in to teach my first class at UVIC a few months later – just 22 years old.
The illustrations are by a man called Charles Hynes.
Amazon still lists the wee book – but I will send you a copy.
As the old folks used to say: Here's tae us –
wha's like us? (“Damn few:and they're aa deid”  is the usual answer..)
alll the best,  Sandy H.
Alexander Hutchison


MacSween the corner butcher with confidence displays

for denizens of the city – 'of toons the a per se'-

a vegetarian haggis, rank specimen of his craft.

Just what the creature might contain defeats surmise:

pinmeal and onions, nuts or beans, some dribs and drabs.

No gristle, no suet, no organ meats: no liver, no tripes

no lights, no heart. Instead of a sheep's paunch

potato skins with a saddle-stitch fly. Up the Mound

down Candlemakers Row the fix is in. The makars jump

the peddlers stump, the market splits wide open.

First from a purely culinary point of view – corned, curried

devilled, smoked and kosher haggis; haggis à la king; wee cocktail

haggis; haggis in a basket; haggis on the half-shell; instant haggis;

English haggis; haggis eclairs; Crimean campaign haggis, conceived

in Sebastopol, consumed in Balaclava; hot-cross haggis; haggis in

plum sauce; desiccated haggis; baked haggis alaska; chocolate mint-

chip haggis; non-stick convenient haggis; cucumber and haggis

sandwiches; junk haggis; whole-hog haggis.

Next by haggis of a special bent – weight-watcher haggis;

haggis for the moonstruck; haggis nouveau; haggis grand cru; 12 year

old vintage haggis matured in oak casks; 100 year old Kung Po haggis

drawn from the well without obstruction; “Bomber” Haggis; haggis for

lovers; lite, lo-tar, lo-nicotine haggis; Campdown haggis; drive-in

haggis; hand-raised, house-trained haggis, with pedigree attached;

haggis by special appointment; reconstituted haggis; nuclear-free

haggis; ancient Dynastic haggis sealed in canopic jars; haggis

quickstep; haggis high in fibre; haggis low in the opinion of several

discerning people; a haggis of the Queen's flight; Nepalese temple

haggis (rich, dark and mildew-free); hard-porn haggis;

haggis built to last.

Finally, objects tending to the metaphysical – desolation

haggis; the canny man's haggis; haggis not so good or bad as

one imagines; haggis made much of caught young; unsung haggis;

haggis not of this fold; haggis dimm'd by superstition;

perfectly intuited haggis; haggis beyond the shadow of a doubt;

bantering haggis; haggis given up for Lent; haggis given up for

lost; haggis so good you think you died and went to heaven;

haggis supreme; haggis unchained.

© Alexander Hutchison    1984, 1990

My last week of July… filled with intercultural incidents

My last week of July… filled with intercultural incidents

There is never enough time to write about everything I do… but for
the past week – here are some intercultural highlights and thoughts.

July 20th  Tang Concubines.

I went to see Tang Concubines at the Centre in Vancouver
for Performing Arts
.  It was amazing… the acrobatic feats, dance
choreography.  I went with my friend Meena, who was born in
Beijing.  Meena kept hitting me on the shoulder, exclaiming how
fantastic the show was.  We agreed that it was for more of a
Chinese audience, or at least an audience that could appreciate Chinese
culture and history more, or interested in it.  Lots of classical
Chinese stylizations in the dance and movement.  It certainly made
it interesting to learn about the Tang dynasty and the roles that the
first Women empress and the emperor's favorite concubine's played.

Looking forward to seeing the remount of Terracotta Warriors and Of Heaven and Earth.

July 22/23 – Vernon Dragon Boat Festival.

The sleepy town of Vernon was very excited to “dot” the “eyes of the
dragon” and host the 2nd annual Greater Vernon Dragon Boat Races. 
I met a lot of Vernon people who were dragon boating for the first
time.  I even got to steer the boat for the Vernon breast cancer
survivor team “Buoyant Buddies.”  Our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon
boat team was there enjoying the hot weather and spreading our
multicultural message of intercultural harmony.  Four of us wore
kilts, in the 41 degree weather (thankfully cooler on the
Saturday).  Lots of questions about the kilts, and compliments on
our team shirts.  Look for a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner coming to
Vernon or Kelowna for January 2007!

Wednesday – Fireworks – July 26th.

Italy lit up the sky.  A small group of dragon boaters watched
from a rooftop patio in Kitsilano with a brand new friend, our host for
the evening.  We shared mutual love of music including Sinatra,
Volare, and other Italian masterpieces such as Puccini and Verdi, and
Rossini.  Wine, music, fireworks, a roof top hot tub and dragon
boat buddies to share it with.  What could be better? 
Chinese ethnicities mixed with Scots, Malaysian, Newfoundland, English,
French and whatever else in between and beyond.

Thurday night – COPE fundraiser BBQ at Rowing Club.

My friend Meena is now the cultural liason for COPE, and insisted I
drop in after I finished my work shift at the Central library.  I
parked my car, just down from the stature of Robbie Burns just inside
the entrance to Stanley Park, across from the Rowing Club.  It was
great to meet so many interesting people, as Meena introduces me as
“Toddish McWong.”  There was a silent auction.  One of the
prizes featured a dvd titled “The Vanishing Tattoo” about tattoo artist
Thomas Lockhart's trip with adventurer Vince Hemingson in Borneo to find some of the aboriginal tattoo
artists and “the last authentic tattoo”.  Of course this big prize included a $100 certificate for
at tatoo at his West Coast Tattoo studio. 

I quickly recognized the picture of Vince
who comes to kilts night – in the video too!  After
introducing myself to Thomas Lockhart, who was attending with his partner Sharon Gregson (COPE school trustee) –  I had to put a bid on the prize. 
Surprise!  I out bid a number of people…  Now what design
to tattoo? and where?  Maybe the “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” logo and
dragon head wearing a tam?  What will my girlfriend say? 
Maybe I can appease her by offering her the prize?

Tacoma Dragon Boat Association makes the Seattle Times newspaper

Tacoma Dragon Boat Association makes the Seattle Times newspaper

Here's a link to an article about Tacoma Dragon Boat Association in the Seattle Times yesterday (July 27, 2006).

article describes how this group now dragon boat paddles 5 times a
week  on Lake Union in Seattle WA, after starting out in Tacoma in 2001.

interview my friend Lee Bjorklund.  Tacoma uses the Hawaiian word “pau”
to mean “stop” – since coach Clem Corbiel used Hawaiian outrigger
language to train the Tacoma dragon boat teams, even though Clem is a
native Albertan from Canada who used to race flatwater canoe against
Hugh Fisher in the Canadian canoe organizations.

In May, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team assisted TDBA by
providing paddlers and drummers for two women's teams in the 2006 False
Creek Women's Regatta.  check out our story and pictures


Roy Miki named to Order of Canada

Roy Miki named to Order of Canada

Roy Miki was named to the Order of Canada on Monday.  I think Roy
is a fabulous Canadian.  Legend has it that he was born on a beet
farm, while his family was interned during World War 2.  Check out
the CTV story below about Roy being recognized for the Order of Canada.

Edmonton Journal (subscription)
Gov.-Gen. names 77 people to Order of Canada, Canada – 24 Jul 2006
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and Donald Meeks, Toronto, education; Roy A. Miki, Vancouver, voluntary

Order of Canada recipients

The first time I met Roy was in 1995 when I was attending the Go for
Broke “Asian Canadian arts revue” which was the fore runner of the
explorASIAN festival.  I interviewed him in an article about Asian
Canadian arts and literature:

In 2002, Roy recieved the Governor General's award for poetry for his
collection “Surrender.”  That following spring, I set up a reading
for him and fellow authors Hiromi Goto at the Vancouver Public Library
for Asian Heritage Month.

Roy has been a big supporter of the “Save Joy Kogawa House” campaign.

Busy weekend…. dragonboats in Vernon on Kalamalka Lake.


Busy weekend…. dragonboats in Vernon on Kalamalka Lake.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team members (red shirts) help load/unload teams

in Vernon dragon boat race at Kalamalka Lake.  – photo Jim Blatherwick

Great vacation in Vernon / Kalamalka Lake…
We had so much fun!!  Lots of stories to share…

memorable moments:
hot hot hot weather….
swimming off the private dock at Deb's parents' lakeside home
kayaking and canoeing at the dock while sipping drinks and eating watermelon.

Our team hanging out after Saturday races at the Martin's private dock on Kalamalka Lake.

– photo Wendy Lee

Our lead stroke Gail, paddling a kayak for the first time.  She LOVED it! 

Other paddlers enjoying a swim from the Martin's private dock – photo Wendy Lee

Watching lightning / thunder storm from the hot tub at Pinnacles Resort on Silver Star Mountain…

Pulling Ashleigh on water skis with a dragon boat.  this was
amazing.  Our start was so strong she popped up right away – but
couldn't hold on and fell.  We had supplemented the team with 4
strong male competitive paddlers…

Then on Monday… we went to visit Mission Hill winery for some wine
tasting, and then over to Quail's Gate Winery for their late harvest
and ice wine served in a chocolate cup.  Yum! Yum!

We have definitely confirmed we have a social club with a paddling
problem.  I can't say we are a drinking team, because alcohol is
simply not a priority.  Good company, good people, good respect
and good intentions – all make for good friendships.

OH – did I forget about the dragon boat racing?
We did two 200m sprints + 500 sprint, then a 1000 m race with turn on the Saturday.

On Sunday, we raced a 500m semi-final – but didn't make it to the medal final.
loaded up the boat with 4 extra competitive level male paddlers for the
water-ski pull – giving us 22 paddlers!.  What a surge on the
boat!  If every race could move like this – we would be in Rec A
and Rec B finals!

Dragon Boat teams pulling a water skier… nope – doesn't look like our team. 

The steersperson (me) would be wearing a kilt! – photo Jim Blatherwick

Kalamalka Lake is my weekend destination for kayaking, canoeing and… dragon boat racing!

Kalamalka Lake is my weekend destination for kayaking, canoeing and… dragon boat racing!

North end of Kalamalka Lake will host dragon boat racing this coming
weekend.  Boats will race West to East.  This picture is from
my April visit which will explain why there are green plants in the
picture. – photo Todd Wong

This weekend, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team heads to
Kalamalka Lake for dragon boat racing.  It is one of the most
beautiful lakes I have seen in BC, and I love canoeing and kayaking on

Previously, all I knew about Kalamalka Lake had been that it was South
of Vernon, BC.  My family went on ski vacations to Silver Star resort
when I was in Grade 5, 6, 7 and 11.  I even broke my left leg (fibula)
skiing in grade 6.

My girlfriend's parents live on the East side of Kalamalka Lake, near
the entrance to Kalalmalka Lake Provincial Park.  During the past few
years, I have enjoyed hiking, canoeing and kayaking in the park, in the
summer, fall, winter and spring.

When I first drove past Kalamalka Lake as an adult, it was the summer
of 2003.  I had just returned to BC, from the inaugural dragon
boat races at Sellwood Park in Portland Oregon.   I drove
slowly by the beach area, marveling at the docks on the west side of
the beach.  Maybe they would be perfect for use for a dragon boat
race.  The sand was white and clean.  It looked perfect for a
dragon boat race.

Fast forward two years to 2005, and the Greater Vernon Dragon Boat
Races took place over two days in July.  The event was organized
by the Calgary Dragonboat Club.  We couldn't get enough paddlers
from the Gung Haggis team up to Vernon for the weekend, so Peggy joined
a local Vernon team, and I volunteered with the dock crew.  Only
the Pacific Reach team made the journey from Vancouver.  Most
teams were from Vernon, along with crews from Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon
Arm, Penticton and Oosooyoos.  Check my 2005 story:  Dragon Boat racing in Vernon's inaugural DB race on Kalamalka Lake

This weekend's weather is going to be hot, with temperatures hitting 40
degrees Celsius.   Looks like a great way to stay cool by
paddling on a lake.

Kalamalka Lake – looking East from the highway across the lake to Martin's Nest (red roof) – photo Todd Wong

on Thu 20 Apr 2006 02:47 PM PDT
Kalamalka Lake – looking East from the highway across the lake to Martin's Nest (red roof

on Thu 20 Apr 2006 02:17 PM PDT
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park on the right… Martin's Nest point on the left – photo

on Thu 20 Apr 2006 02:39 PM PDT
Kalamalka Lake – view from Martin's Nest – photo by Todd

on Sat 22 Apr 2006 11:58 AM PDT
Kalamalka Lake at sunset Easter Sunday, view from above the hot tub – photo Todd Wong

Vancouver Aquarium – July visit with friends from Alaska

Vancouver Aquarium – July visit with friends from Alaska

Beluga whale showing the tail flukes, at Vancouver Aquarium – photo Todd Wong

It seems strange to take friends from Alaska to go see beluga whales at
the Vancouver Aquarium – but that is what we did.  My girlfriend's
cousin was visiting Vancouver with her son, so off to the Aquarium we
went.  Sue and Harrison call Anchorage Alaska home.   We put
a special Alaskan context  on our personally guided tour and
introduced them to the sea otters that came from Prince William Sound
after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  We showed them the displays
highlighting the sea life from nearby Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte

Harrison watching the beluga whales at Vancouver Aquarium, under water viewing gallery – photo Todd Wong

I have always loved visiting the aquarium since I was a
small child in the 1960's.  My father would take us even before
Skanna the killer whale was there, in the BC Tel pool – tiny by today's
standards.  We even have home movie footage of the killer whale
that was trapped and put on display by fishermen in Pender Harbour in
the late 1960's.  I believe that this was the start of the
learning curve about orcas in BC.  My brother grew up studying
marine biology, and later supervised the wardenship program for the
Michael Biggs / Robson Bight wilderness refuge area for the orcas near
Telegraph Cove, BC. 

The more we can understand and appreciate marine sea life and our BC
coast, the more I believe, that we will become better stewards and
protectors of the environment and the fragile eco-systems of our
planet.  I feel that I have been blessed to witness sea otters,
killer whales, dophins and even Grey whales in their natural
environment on the Vancouver Island waters.

on Thu 20 Jul 2006 01:42 PM PDT
Beluga whales, Sue, Harrison and Deb at Aquarium – photo Todd Wong

on Thu 20 Jul 2006 01:51 PM PDT
Vancouver Aquarium:  Beluga whale watching me…. – photo Todd Wong