Todd's adventure in Victoria: Traveling to “The Party” at BC Royal Museum and behind the scenes at BC Community Achievement Awards

Todd's adventure in Victoria: “The Party” at BC Royal Museum

Victoria and BC has deep Scottish and Chinese roots. At the BC Royal Museum, I found nearby pictures of both Scottish and Chinese pioneers.  Okay the Scots were in the front, and the Chinese were in the back, and they seemed to be separated by more than the metaphorical space between them.

I spent 8 hours in Victoria and about 9 hours travelling there and back to the BC Community Achievement Awards on Wednesday April 23rd.  We almost missed the 9am ferry due to the stupid delays trying to go against traffic through the Massey tunnel.  We arrived at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal 12 minutes after the 8:30am deadline for 9am reservations. 

“But I have to be at Government House to meet the Premier and the Lt. Gov. to accept an award,” I pleaded.

“You can try, ” the ticket sales person said apologetically, “the ferry is at over capacity already.  Go to lane 28.” 

It was 8:50 and cars rushed down beside us in lane 29.  Finally at 8:55 our lane started moving.  We got closer to the ferry.  Then we stopped.  Then we started again.  We kept following the car in front, as we drove past the lead car in row 29.  We were now heading towards the ferry….yippee!  A few cars behind us made it on.  Relief.

On the ferry, we got in line to have breakfast.  My dad waited while I checked the Pacific Buffet for my friend and award nominator David Kogawa. I came back to the line up, and told my girlfriend, I should go check around for David.  At that moment a dapper looking elderly Asian man with white hair appeared.  It was David on cue.

“Todd!” a voice called me, as I was carrying my breakfast to the table to join my parents.  It was Terry Hunter with his son Montana.  Terry was an award recipient along with his creative and marriage partner Savannah Walling, creators of Vancouver Moving Theatre and producers of the Heart of the City Festival on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.  We had a short chat, and we promised to find each other after breakfast.

I spotted another award recipient having breakfast.  It was George Puil, former Vancouver city councilor. I went to congratulate him.  I hadn't known or met George before.  He was very interested in hearing about the Historic Joy Kogawa House, and asked many questions about how we were able to save the house from demolition, where the house was, and our plans to restore the house and create a literary centre, and establish the heritage designation.

“My old high school teacher,” remarked Mel Lehan, when I told him I had bumped into George Puil.  Mel was on his way to Victoria to help his daughter move.  It's that time of year, after final examinations, and his daughter had been attending University of Victoria.

Soon, I was talking with Terry Hunter and his son Montana.  David Kogawa joined us. And soon we were talking about the Japanese Canadian community and it's historical role on the Downtown Eastside.  I told Terry that we were going to the BC Royal Museum to meet author Gary Geddes. David really wanted to go too, since there is a picture of his friend Joy Kogawa featured in the exhibit “The Party.”  Terry offered to give David a ride into Victoria, since they were going in that direction past the museum.

It didn't take long to drive down the Saanich Peninsula into Victoria. This was the first time my parents had been to Victoria in about 5 years.  My dad had been born in Victoria, and his father had managed the largest Chinese general goods store up to the 1920's in Victoria Chinatown.  I can remember many visits to Victoria as a child with my parents.  One visit in the 1960's was to the first agricultural hot houses on Vancouver Island which my mom's cousin's family, the Lum's owned.  My Aunty Roberta's brother-in-law Ed Lum had been the first Chinese-Canadian mayor of Saanich many years ago.

Our visit to the BC Royal Museum was a very exciting one.  Last year, the BC Royal Museum had contacted author Joy Kogawa because they wanted to include a full length picture of her for an exhibit celebrating 150 years of BC history.  But Joy didn't like the picture that the museum had selected, and the pictures Joy did like weren't completely full length.  I offered that my girlfriend Deb and I would do a photo session for Joy.  The pictures turned out wonderfully and the museum was happy when we sent them 6 pictures to choose from.

Then the museum called Deb and asked for pictures of Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  One of the 150 Years exhibits had the theme of food, and they found a picture they wanted on my website www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com.  Deb put them in contact with our photographers who had taken pictures, and a picture by Ray Shum of the 2007 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner was selected. 

At the museum, we were soon met by my friend, author Gary Geddes and his wife Anne.  Gary had already seen the exhibit and said it was quite good.  We got our guest passes and followed him up.  As we entered the exhibit room, we quickly saw all the life size photos arranged like a celebratory birthday cake.  It is a riot of images of famous British Columbians in many different poses.  Some black and white, some colour.  Quickly catching my eye was the photo of Bryan Adams, and then an almost naked Dr. David Suzuki. Rick Hansen in his wheelchair.  Terry Fox up high, wearing his “Marathon of Hope” t-shirt.  But where was Joy?

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We followed Gary around to the other side, my eyes constantly stopping on every image I saw – wanting to identify each figure, but at the same time keep moving to find Joy.

We found her, tucked half way up the display, sandwiched between Betty Krawzyck and Karen Magnussen

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It's a nice photo of Joy, and the photo credit is attributed to Todd Wong.  Cool!

There are also black cut-outs with segmented lines, representing missing people yet to be chosen.  If you think the exhibit is missing somebody that should be included, you can nominate them.  If you think somebody chosen, shouldn't be there – you can vote them out too!

If you think Toddish McWong and Gung Haggis Fat Choy should be part of “The Party” to represent multiculturalism in homage to BC's pioneer Scots and Chinese – you can click here!

http://www.freespiritbc.ca/virtualexhibition/theparty.aspx

Wouldn't this be a great image to include in “The Party?”, rubbing shoulders with “Mr. Peanut” and “Expo Ernie” as well as DOA, The Raging Grannies, Nicholas Campbell, Pam Anderson and David Suzuki?

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