CBC Generations: Film interviews begin today on the history of Rev. Chan family
Todd Wong is interviewed by producer
Halya Kuchmij for the CBC Generations series documentary, at the Dr.
Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. Wong's maternal
great-great-grandfather Rev. Yu Tan Chan met with Dr. Sun Yat Sen,
during his visits to Vancouver. Wong's paternal cousin Joe Wai is
architect of the gardens. – photo Rick Zimmerman.
We started filming interviews today on the CBC documentary series Generations, which will feature the the Rev. Chan Yu Tan family.
It is part of a CBC series that focuses on the histories of families
through the generations. Past episodes include: 100 Years in
Alberta; 100 Years in Sasketchewan; A Century on the Siksika Reserve.
Today our interviews were done at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.
We had a very nice shot of the gardens behind me, while producer Halya
Kuchmij asked me questions. Camera person is Doug. Sound
person is Rick. They have both been doing additional filming of
me at the Richmond Terry Fox Run, and also for a Chinese Canadian
veterans reunion in Victoria last weekend.
Halya's interview topics included:
– what I knew about my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan;
– what was Vancouver like when Rev. Chan Yu Tan came to Canada in 1896;
– what kind of racial prejudice did Chinese-Canadians face in Canada;
– how has knowing about Rev. Chan influenced any of my community service
Then the rain started getting bigger and wetter. We went for
lunch at Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant which specializes in the old-time style
of Cantonese food favoured by the Pioneer descendants of the 20th
Century. Co-owner Joanna was very friendly to us, and recommended
a number of dishes. Halya, Rick, Doug and I exchanged stories
about eating Chinese food, and growing up in Canada. Doug grew up
in southern Alberta. Halya grew up in Manitoba, and I grew up in
We returned to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens in the afternoon to film me
playing the song “Amazing Grace” on my accordion. It's a song
that imagine Rev. Chan playing on his own pump organ. It was
written by former Scottish sea captain, John Newton, who sailed African
slaves to the United States. He later “saw the light,” and
insisted that the slaves be treated humanely. He later became a
We filmed me playing the song slow… then fast. I was wearing my
“Fraser Hunting tartan” kilt, to emphasize my character of “Toddish
McWong.” It was lovely playing Amazing Grace in the
gardens. With the gentle rain falling, few tourists
visited. The gardens were peacefully quiet despite the traffic
noise. And indeed the gardens provide a cultural meditative oasis
in the heart of this busy city called Vancouver.
Tomorrow we travel to Vancouver Island to visit two of Rev. Chan Yu
Tan's grandchildren who remember attending his services at his Nanaimo
Church during the 1930's.