CBC Generations documentary series features BC's Rev. Chan family and descendants (including me!)

CBC Generations documentary series features BC's Rev. Chan family and descendants (including me!)

Chan family

Generations is a 6 part series and the lead installment is The Chan Legacy – which is about my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, and our family descendants who are committed to community service – like me!  The episodes of the series are:

The Chan Legacy on CBC Newsworld

July 4, 10 pm ET/PT,
July 8, 10 am ET/PT,
July 29, 7 pm ET

Producer Halya Kuchmij is very proud of her work, and that we are the first in the series.  It must be a very strong, emotional,
educational documentary.  I have been an adviser and witness to many of
the interviews, as well as some of the script.  I have to say it made
me very proud of our family, and the show is very emotionally
touching.  And I haven't even seen it yet!

Many family members were interviewed:

  • Victor Wong, grand-son, WW2 veteran and Victoria resident who visited his grandparents in Nanaimo BC.
  • Helen Lee, grand-daughter, who lived with Rev. & Mrs. Chan Yu Tan in Nanaimo.
  • Gary Lee, great-grandson who tells about some of the challenges overcome by the family.
  • Janice Wong, great-grand-daughter, and award winning author of CHOW: From China to Canada, memories of food and family.
  • Rhonda Larrabee, great-grand-daughter, and chief of the First Nations Qayqayt (New Westminster) Band, featured in the NFB film “Tribe of One.”
  • Todd Wong, great-great-grandson, community and cultural activist,
    creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
  • Tracey Hinder, 5th generation high school student who was the inaugural Vancouver CanSpell champion and went on to compete in Ottawa and Washington DC.  Tracey is a member of her school's “multicultural club.”

Rev. Chan Yu Tan came to Canada in 1896, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai who had earlier arrived in 1888 at the invitation of the Methodist Church of Canada.  These two brothers were later followed by sisters Phoebe in 1899, and Naomi who later moved to Chicago.  Throughout seven generations, the family has spread throughout Canada and the United States.  The Rev. Chan Yu Tan Family was featured in the photographic exhibition Three Early Chinese Canadian Pioneer Families

Read my blog entries about
Rev. Chan Legacy Project which includes stories during the making of the documentary and events for Janice Wong's award-winning book C H O W: From China to Canada memoris of food and family.


Please tell all your friends and relatives about this upcoming documentary, very informative about the history of Chinese-Canadians, and the legacy they have built in Canada.

the following is from the CBC Generations home page:


Generations: The Chan Legacy

documentary begins with Todd Wong playing the accordion, wearing a
kilt. He promotes cultural fusion, and in doing so, he honours the
legacy of his great, great, grandfather The Reverend Chan Yu Tan. The
Chans go back seven generations in Canada and are one of the oldest
families on the West Coast.
Chan family
The Chan family
Reverend Chan left China for Victoria in 1896 at a time when most Chinese immigrants were simple labourers, houseboys and laundrymen who had come to British Columbia
to build the railroad or work in the mines. His wife Mrs. Chan Wong Shee followed him later in 1899.  The Chans were different.
They were educated and Westernized Methodist Church missionaries who
came to convert the Chinese already in Canada,
and teach them English. The Chans were a family with status and they
believed in integration. However even they could not escape the racism
that existed at the time, the notorious head tax and laws that excluded
the Chinese from citizenship.
the documentary, Reverand Chan's granddaughter Helen Lee, grandson
Victor Wong, and great grandson Gary Lee recall being barred from
theaters, bowling alleys and restaurants. The Chinese were not allowed
to become doctors or lawyers, pharmacists or teachers. Still, several
members of the Chan family served in World War II,
because they felt they were Canadian and wanted to contribute. Finally,
in 1947, Chinese born in Canada were granted citizenship and the right
to vote.
Todd Wong
Todd Wong
Today, Todd Wong,
represents a younger generation of successful professionals and entrepreneurs scattered across North America.
He promotes his own brand of cultural integration through an annual
event in Vancouver called Gung Haggis Fat Choy. It's a celebration that
joins Chinese New Year with Robbie Burns Day, and brings together the two cultures that once lived completely separately in the early days of British Columbia.

We also meet a member of the youngest generation, teenager Tracey
Hinder, who also cherishes the legacy of Reverend Chan, but in contrast
to his desire to promote English she is studying mandarin and longs to
visit the birthplace of her ancestors.

Produced by Halya Kuchmij, narrated by Michele Cheung.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

one + = 5