Monthly Archives: February 2009

Stanely Park with snow frosting February 26, 2009

2009_February 257 by you. – photo Todd Wong

Snow always makes things look prettier or scarier.  During the snow storms of December, I didn't get a chance to take pictures in Stanley Park.  I was always driving through the causeway enroute somewhere elese.  Thursday morning, I was able to stop at the Robert Burns and Lord Stanley statues, the Hollow Tree, and Prospect Point. 

The light snow cover really emphasized the damage caused by the big windstorm of 2006.  It opened up many new views never seen before. 

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There is now a plaque and monument at Prospect Point that recognizes
the event and the many donors who contributed to the restoration of
Stanley Park.

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I also paid a visit to the The Hollow Tree, poor dilapidated subject of so many opinions to be put to rest or resurrected.  My great-grandma had a wedding picture taken in front of this tree back around 1907

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And to Lord Stanley, famous for donating Stanley Park… and of course the Stanley Cup – the holy grail of hockey!
On the monument are the words:

“To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours creeds and customs for all time ~ I name thee Stanley Park”

– Lord Stanley, Governor General, October 1889

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And to Robbbie Burns, of course…. with Lord Stanley in the background.

February 26 Snow in Stanley Park

February 26 Snow in Stanley…

Scotsmen walk and drink how much per year?

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 024 by you.
Michelle Carlisle is the lovely flute player of the band Blackthorn which played at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. She also plays keyboards and flute for the Halifax Wharf Rats.- photo VFK

The following is sent to me from Michelle Carlisle of Blackthorn and Halifax Wharf Rats bands:

A recent study conducted by Aberdeen University found that the
average Scotsman walks about 900 miles a year.

Another study by the Scottish Medical Association found that
Scotsmen drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year!!

This means, on average, Scotsmen get about 41 miles to the gallon.

Kind Of Makes You Proud to Be Scottish doesn't it!


Seattle Gung Haggis Fat Choy, Sunday February 15th.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy III in Seattle Washington: 200 strong and amazing!

2009_Gung_Haggis_Seattle 059 by you.

Todd Wong and Joe McDonald (centre), went down to Seattle on February 15th, to
take their manic Gung Haggis Rap south of the Canadian border. Here they stand with Red McWilliams (left) and Don Scobie (right), following an exciting Seattle program of Chinese lion dances, Scottish bagpipes, Chinese dancers, Highland dancers, and the Asian Youth Orchesta. – photo Deb Martin.

It was 5pm at Ocean City Restaurant in Seattle's International District, the day after Valentine's Day.  Where were you?  Todd Wong, Joe McDonald and Deb Martin, were still driving to Seattle after a 2 hour delay at the US Border.  They arrived about 6pm, as the Kenmore & District Pipe Band has just followed David Leong's Bellwon Martial Arts Lion dancers.

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Joe McDonald raps the Address to the Haggis, “An' legs and arms and heads will sned like taps of thrissle”, while Bill McFadden and Todd Wong look on – photo Deb Martin.

Bill McFadden, producer of Gung Haggis Fat Choy III in Seattle, set up a program that really featured Seattle's youth, by featuring the Melody Chinese dance Group, Karen Shelton Highland Dancers, and the Asian Youth Orchestra.

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Melody Dance Troupe, performs a fan dance – photo Todd Wong

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Young dancers performs the sword dance – photo T. Wong

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The Highland Fling – photo T. Wong

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Asian Youth Orchestra peforms drums – photo T. Wong

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After Emily's performance drew standing ovations, Todd Wong exclaimed “That song's not Chinese!” as Emily smiled.  “That song was Czardas, a Romanian song… I play that on my accordion.  What a wonderful display of technique by Emily!”

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Young Chinese drummers raise their arms in excitement at the end of their performance! – photo Todd Wong

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The Kenmore & District Pipe Band played to bring a rousing finale! photo Todd Wong

Heather Pawsey performs Sunday at Rocky Mountaineer train station

Heather Pawsey performs this Sunday on rail cars!

She is one of the most adventuresome and creative performers that I know. 

DSC_4176_103729 - soprano Heather E. PAWSEY by FlungingPictures.Heather is a favorite performer at Gung Haggis Fat Choy events – photo Patrick Tam/Flunging Pictures

Through her unique music series “New Music in New Places,” She has sung in mines, a wine vat, at the aquarium… Now she will be singing in rail cars.

February 15, 2009
Rocky Mountaineer Station
Vancouver BC
(see Heather's message below for details)

At the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, she reprised her Brief
Encounters work with dj Timothy Wisdom, singing opera arias to hip hop
beats.  As well, she sang the classic Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua
(Jasmine Flower) in mandarin, accompanied by cultural fusion ensemble
Silk Road Music.

DSC_3803_103366 - Heather PAWSEY & Mad Celts by FlungingPictures.

Check out her website

See the message from Heather below:


If you're looking for something a little different next
weekend, please come and enjoy an evening of evocative railway-themed
Canadian chamber music at my upcoming New Music in New Places concert
Sound-Tracks.  Due to recent federal cuts, this unfortunately marks the
final round of New Music in New Places, so if you haven't had the
opportunity yet to check out these unique, site-specific events, come
to the Rocky Mountaineer train station on February 15 to find out what
they've been all about.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Rocky Mountaineer Train Station
1755 Cottrell Street, Vancouver
(Reservations required, 604-606-7361 or
Aboard!! SOUND-TRACKS, a rollicking ride of contemporary classical
Canadian music celebrating the mystery and romance of the rails, “hits
the track” Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rocky
Mountaineer Train Station (1755 Cottrell Street, Vancouver).  This
event is part of the New Music in New Places concert series, presented
by the Canadian Music Centre.
Board three stationary carriages
of the Rocky Mountaineer and Whistler Mountaineer trains (including the
gracious Glacier Dome car, and luxurious, bi-level GoldLeaf Dome Coach
affording a spectacular view of downtown Vancouver by night) with
critically acclaimed musicians Ariel Barnes, cello; Kathryn Cernauskas,
flute; AK Coope, clarinet; and Heather Pawsey, soprano for short,
intimate “mini-concerts”, and then move into the renovated vintage
station itself to join pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa for a full ensemble
Just as the railway united the vast borders of our
country, music brings us closer together and sets us dreaming of
journeys, explorations and new discoveries.  From coast to coast,
Canadian composers and authors have been fascinated with the legends
and lore of our iconic railways. SOUND-TRACKS celebrates this robust
legacy with works that include Violet Archer’s Train at Night; Paul
McIntyre’s At the Railway Station; Elma Miller’s Windwalker; Marjan
Mozetich’s Duet in Blue; Eldon Rathburn’s Ghost Train; Sid
Robinovitch’s Three Winter Songs; and Norman Symond’s Deep Ground, Long
Works from British Columbia highlight Michael
Bushnell’s On Track; Jocelyn Morlock's Train; John Oliver’s 3
Trains; Sylvia Rickard’s Songs of the Loon; Barry Truax’s Steam;
and Leslie Uyeda’s Classical Escapade (world premiere), among others.
to SOUND-TRACKS is free but reservations are required on a first-come,
first-served basis. To book a space, please call the concert hotline at
604-606-7361 or email
ADVISORY: As a portion of this concert will include moving from car to
car along the platform, please dress appropriately for weather and wear
footwear suitable for boarding railway carriages.
acclaimed musicians Ariel Barnes, cello; Kathryn Cernauskas, flute; AK
Coope, clarinet; Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano; and Heather Pawsey, soprano
are particularly noted for their fearless and innovative approaches to
contemporary music.  Collectively, they have premiered hundreds of new
Canadian works, many written specifically for them, with performances
spanning North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The Rocky
Mountaineer Station is located at 1755 Cottrell Street, Vancouver (east
on Terminal Avenue, south on Cottrell Street, located beside the Home
Depot) and parking is available.  The vintage station is a renovated
mid-1950s Canadian National Railways locomotive maintenance building
with exposed timber and brick, 35 foot vaulted ceilings, and a
full-length glass wall that provides a complete view of the track and
rolling stock.
SOUND-TRACKS is part of the Canadian Music
Centre’s “New Music in New Places” initiative to take Canadian music
out of concert halls and in to alternative venues, and is made possible
through the generous support and assistance of Rocky Mountaineer
Vacations and Tom Lee Music.  The Canadian Music Centre is an
independent, not for profit, non-government agency that promotes and
disseminates the music of Canadian composers.  2009 marks the 50th
anniversary of the Canadian Music Centre, and SOUND-TRACKS is dedicated
to the CMC in appreciation and celebration. 
The Canadian Music
Centre gratefully acknowledges the support of the SOCAN Foundation and
the Government of Canada through the Canada Music Fund.
Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Rocky Mountaineer Station (1755 Cottrell Street, Vancouver)
(Reservations required, 604-606-7361 or
More Info: Canadian Music Centre | 604.734.4622 |
Media Contact: Kara Gibbs | | 604.644.6985

Vancouver Opera's “Voices of the Pacific Rim” displays wonderful talent

“Voices of the Pacific Rim” is a talent showcase for Asian-Canadian opera singers in this Vancouver Opera production.

2009_February 183 by you.

The 10 featured performers from “Voices of the Pacific” – photo Todd Wong

I loved last year's show, and while this year's show was equally enjoyable, it still left me wondering why a show titled Voices of the Pacific Rim featured so many European opera arias sung in German and Italian.

For $20, this is one of the most pleasurable and affordable opera recitals you could attend.  The musicianship is superb.  The singers are crowd pleasers.  And you have to wonder, why you didn't invite more of your friends to join you.

This is a wonderful way for Vancouver Opera to reach out to Vancouver's many Asian communities, by featuring performers and songs with Japanese heritage this year, and Korean heritage last year.

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Gina Oh is the music curator, as she was for last year's show.  But this year, the young Korean-Canadian was named one of the top 100 Koreans by the Korean Consulate for her work in helping promote culture. 

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Sam Chung is a member of the Vancouver Opera Chorus, and will make his official debut with the VOA as a soloist in the upcoming Rigoletto.  He gave a very fine performance of his talents in two solo turns.  Sam had a commanding stage presence, with a voice that seems larger than his 5'6″ frame.

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Jessica Cheung is always a delight to watch.  She brought a delightfully charming attention to her aria from Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio.

More later….

Gung Haggis Fat Choy SEATTLE… this Sunday!

“Toddish McWong's”

Gung Haggis Fat ChoyTM III !!!

by Bill McFadden,
President of the Caledonian & St. Andrew's Society of Seattle

Sunday, February 15th 2009 – 5pm to 9pm

Ocean City Restaurant – 609 S. Weller St.
in Seattle's International District (across from Uwajimaya)

A Chinese/Scottish Cross-Cultural
The 250th Birthday of Robert Burns
Chinese Lunar New Year Year of the Ox

8 Course Dinner, Haggis, Raffle/Door Prize

entertainment featuring: Emcee Mr. Todd “Toddish McWong” Wong and
his inimitable “Address tae the Haggis Rap”, “Red” McWilliams, Sifu
David F. Leong's Belltown Martial Arts,  Kenmore & District Pipe
Band, Karen Shelton Highland Dancers – Karen Shelton, Director, Melody
Dance Group – Melody Xie, Director, Pipers Don Scobie and Joe McDonald,
Asian Youth Orchestra – Warren Chang, Director

Ticket price $35 per person

Contact/Reservations:  Bill McFadden (206) 364-6025

Jen Sookfong Lee reads Feb 12 for The On Edge reading series at Emily Carr University of Art + Design

The End of East

Jen Sookfong Lee will give a reading on Granville Island at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

I really enjoyed reading Jen Sookfong Lee's debut novel, The End of East.  It updates “the Chinatown story” from past incarnations by Wayson Choy in “The Jade Peony” or “Disappearing Moon Cafe” by SKY Lee.

Jen brings a grittier edgier approach to dealing with family and Chinese-Canadian identity issues.  In fact, the protaganist tries to escape her family and its issues by disappearing into Montreal, until she is dragged back to face then in Vancouver. 

Lee's writing is thoughtful, and her in-person readings and talks are very delightful.  She will sometimes address that it was her grandfather's head tax certificate that inspired her to write some of the aspects of this story.  Sometimes it's the third generation that often tries to rediscover what the 2nd generation was trying to cover up, or deemphasize in their own ambitions to blend in and assimilate into Canadian society.

Check out my May 2007 article about meeting Jen Sookfong Lee at the CBC Book Club

The following information is courtesy of Rita Wong, our featured poet at the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner.

The On Edge readings series presents:
Jen Sookfong Lee
Thurs, Feb 12 – 7 pm

in South Building Room 406
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Granville Island

This reading is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

Sookfong Lee’s novel, The End of East (Knopf Canada, New Face of
Fiction 2007), delves into the underside of Chinese Canadian history
through the eyes of the Chan family. The National Post calls The End of
East “impressive, both in terms of its accomplished prose and its
ambitious three-generational scope.” The Calgary Herald notes that “Jen
Sookfong Lee is aware, it would seem, of the dark side of mythmaking,
its distorting and even parasitic price. It's one of many things that
make her a novelist to watch.” Jen, who edits two online magazines,
Schema and Wet Ink, is a member of the noted writing group SPiN. To
find out more, visit


Here is the spring schedule:

Feb 26 – Taien Ng-Chan
March 12 – Weyman Chan
April 2 – Shirley Bear

readings are at 7 pm on Thursday evenings in SB 406 at Emily Carr
University, Granville Island, Vancouver. Please come, and bring
friends, students, colleagues…

The On Edge series gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council and Emily Carr University.

Note: There is free parking in the parkade under the ECU South Building after 7 pm.

Bios of writers:

Ng-Chan is the author of Maps of Our Bodies and the Borders We Have
Agreed Upon, anthology editor of Ribsauce, and co-editor with Dana Bath
of Navigating Customs.  She has written drama for stage, screen, and
radio, and her short films have played at festivals in Canada and the
US.  Based in Montreal, she currently writes a regular movie column in
Matrix Magazine, and is in post-production on a trilogy of videopoems
called Sum-tung (heartache).  As well, she is trying to finish her
first collection of stories, Blueprints for a Red Paper House.

Chan is the author of Before A Blue Sky Moon, the 2002 recipient of the
Alberta Book Award for best book of poetry.  Noise From the Laundry,
his latest book of poems, was published by Talonbooks in 2008 and
shortlisted for the Governor General's Prize in Poetry.  hypo-derm,
more poetry,will be released in 2010 by Frontenac.  Weyman Chan lives
and works in Calgary.

The author of a book of poems entitled
Virgin Bones (McGilligan Press, 2007), Shirley Bear is a multi-media
artist, writer, activist, and native traditional herbalist.  Born on
the Tobique First Nation, she is an original member of the Wabnaki
language group of New Brunswick, Canada.  Shirley Bear was the 2002
recipient of the Excellence in the Arts Award from the New Brunswick
Arts Board.

Vancouver Opera is showcasing Asian-Canadian singers in their “Voice of the Pacific Rim”

Opera has led to many cross-cultural musical fusions… name an opera set in Asia…

Here I am playing accordion, with soprano Jessica Cheung.  We are performing the “Farewell Song” used in the Naomi's Road opera, accompanied by Mats on guitar and Harry Aoki on bass.  Jessica is one of my favorite sopranos!  This photo is from the first open house event at Historic Joy Kogawa House. – photo Deb Martin

Some of my favorite opera arias are set in Asian.  The famous tenor aria Nessun Dorma, is from Puccini's “Turandot”, set in ancient Peking.  Puccini's beautiful “Un Bel Dei” is from Madame Butterfly, set in Japan.  I like playing both of them on my accordion.

And the “Flower Duet” from Lakme, composed by Delibes, is set in India.  You will recognize this from many television commercials.  It is always so exciting to hear it performed live.  Here's a beautiful version on youtube with Sumi Jo & Ah-Kyung Lee.  And then there is also Bizet's “The Pearl Fishers” set in Ceylon.

It's a wonder that in a Pan-Asian city such as Vancouver, there isn't a real push to feature more Asian performers.  Music has always been a prime mover in breaking down racial barriers.

The Vancouver Opera is featuring their 2nd annual “Voices of the Pacific Rim” recital.
Sunday, Feb 8th, 7:30pm.

This show features young Asian-Canadian artists.  I got to know Jessica Cheung, Gina Oh and Sam Chung, when they did the Vancouver Opera Touring production of “Naomi's Road,”  which debuted in September 2005.  I saw the show many times in many venues.  The opera was based on the children's novel “Naomi's Road” which was based on the adult novel “Obasan” by Joy Kogawa.

The presence of the opera, really helped to build awareness for the “Save Kogawa House” campaign, as well as 2005's One Book One Vancouver, by the Vancouver Public Library, which featured the novel “Obasan.”

Voices of the Pacific Rim

February 8, 2009

Vancouver Playhouse, Hamilton & Dunsmuir
Tickets:  $20, including GST
To purchase call 604-683-0222

Vancouver Opera brings Asian and western cultures together in Voices of
the Pacific Rim, a recital of popular opera selections combined with
traditional Asian songs, performed by rising Asian Canadian opera
singers and celebrating and honouring the Chinese, Korean and Japanese

Featuring Jessica Cheung, Lucy Hyeon Kyung Choi, Sam Chung, Joyce Ho,

Brian Lee, Michael Mori, Stephanie Nakagawa, Gina Oh, Asako Tamura, Szu-Wen Wang 

Music Director:  Kinza Tyrrell

Artistic Curator:  Gina Oh

Artwork:  Marco Tulio, courtesy of Artspace

Community Partners:

Powell Street Festival Society

Canadian Society for Asian Arts

CLC Winter School starts off with speech from Carole James


445 by you.
Todd Wong (CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers) with Carole James, NDP leader, and Judy Darcy – president of HEU (Hospital Employees Union).
The Canadian Labour Congress has organized Winter School for 32 years at Harrsion Hot Springs Resort.  This was my first time attending, as I am still on my first year being on the executive of CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers, as a member-at-large.
I was enrolled in the course, “Unions in the Community.” Even though I am recognized by many people as a community leader, and community organizer, I learned many things about community organizing.  I was amazed at the depth and involvement of my class mates in their communities and union locals.


On Monday, the first day of classes began.   The evening featured a speech by BC NDP leader, Carole James.442
Carole talked with Fred Kay, a retired long shore man, and veteran of the CLC Winter School.


It's always a pleasure to catch up with Jenny Kwan, MLA for Vancouver Mount Pleasant.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2009 Dinner highlights on Youtube

See Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson cut the haggis “wi' ready slight” at the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

First timer Louis attended the Gung Haggis dinner, sitting at the Stuart Mackinnon table.  He has created a really nice little video, collecting some of the highlights of the event.

See Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon singing “My Chow Mein Lies Over the Ocean”

See the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipes & Drums, pipe in the haggis.

See Joe McDonald and Toddish McWong perform “The Haggis Rap” with guest rapper Ndid Cascade.

See opera soprano Heather Pawsey sing “Jasmine Flower” with Silk Road Music ensemble.

See Catherine Barr lead kilted male dinner guests in a rapping version of the “Toast to the Lassies”

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2009