About

Toddish McWong’s Misadventures in Multiculturalism: arts, culture, food, dragon boats, travel.

This is my blog…. started in December 2003.

Originally the blog was set up to provide information about the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Dinner, but over the years post topics broadened to include other intercultural arts & cultural activities, dragon boat activities, Chinese Head Tax redress events, library events, reviews of local theatre, music and opera events, travel, accordion performances, and more…

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is more than just a fusion of Scottish and Chinese cultural events.  Originally, I stated that British Columbia’s original pioneers were not English and French as in founding colonial cultures of Canada = but actually Chinese and Scottish.  Many of BC’s early explorers such as Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser were of Scottish ancestry, as was the founding governor Sir James Douglas, and Vancouver’s first mayor Malcolm Alexander Maclean.  I am also very interested in my Chinese-Canadian ancestry and Canadian roots. My paternal grandfather arrived in Canada in 1882 and my maternal great great grandfather in 1896.  This has also led me  to explore the history and contemporary culture of British Columbia with special interests in Chinese-Canadian and Scottish-Canadian as well as mixed-race culture.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team:  In 1997 I founded and coached the Celebration Team, which in 2002 was renamed Gung Haggis Fat Choy in order to give the team a multicultural identity, that would encourage the sharing and learning of BC’s pioneering cultures.  I had started dragon boat racing in 1993, and coaching in 1995, for teams participating in the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  I served on the race committee for the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival 2000-2003, and helped to found the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race in 2003.

 

according to Wikipedia:

Gung Haggis Fat Choy was created in 1993 when a Simon Fraser University student Todd Wong was asked to help out with the University’s annual Robbie Burns celebrations. Wong, a 5th generation Canadian, quickly learned about Scottish-Canadian culture with its traditions of men wearing kilts, carrying swords, playing bagpipes and eating exotic foods. In 1993, the Chinese Lunar New Year fell on January 27, only two days away from Robbie Burns Day, which is always January 25 in celebration of the Scottish Bard’s birthday. “Gung Haggis Fat Choy!” said Wong, “I can celebrate two cultures at the same time.” And thus was born the persona of “Toddish McWong” with his growing appreciation of Scottish Canadian history and culture.

In 1998, Wong hosted the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner as a private dinner party for 16 friends. In 1999, the first public Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner was created as a fundraiser for the dragon boat team. Forty people attended. Now upwards of 300 people or more are served each year.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a cultural event originating from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The name Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a combination wordplay on Scottish and Chinese words: haggis is a traditional Scottish food and Gung Hay Fat Choy / Kung Hei Fat Choi is a traditional Cantonese greeting (in Mandarin it is pronounced Gong Xi Fa Cai) used during Chinese New Year.

The event originated to mark the timely coincidence of the Scottish cultural celebration of Robert Burns Day (January 25) with the Chinese New Year, but has come to represent a celebration of combining cultures in untraditional ways. In Vancouver, the event is characterized by music, poetry, and other performances around the city, culminating in a large banquet and party.

This unique event has also inspired both a CBC television performance special titled Gung Haggis Fat Choy,  and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival, organized by the Recreation Department at Simon Fraser University.

27 thoughts on “About

  1. Jak King

    Hi Todd: Very pleased to have met you at the bookstore today and I really hope you enjoy the book! I just wanted to give you the website address above.
    Best regards!
    Jak

    Reply
  2. Colin McGuire

    Greetings to Gung Haggis Fat Choy,

    My name is Colin McGuire and I’m in a contest that I hope you might be interested in supporting. I’m wearing the kilt in a Canada’s Sharpest Man contest and I need votes from anybody who loves tartan!

    It would be really fantastic if you could notify your members that they have an opportunity to promote kilts and tartan. Voting is easy, doesn’t require sign up or email verification, and they can vote once per 24 hours until July 7th, 2012.

    If you wouldn’t mind, send them over to http://tinyurl.com/7urk64g

    Cheers,

    Colin

    p.s. I’m not only a kilt wearer but also a lion dancer. If I’m ever in Vancouver for Burns Night/CNY, I’d love to come to one of your events 🙂

    Reply
  3. May Q. Wong

    Hi Todd,

    Larry Wong told me you’d posted photos of my reading of “A Cowherd in Paradise” at Vancouver WOTS. I remember seeing you taking the pics. Great event, sorry I missed your musical performance. Thanks for the publicity!
    Cheers,
    May

    Reply
  4. Linda Anusasananan

    I got your name from Charlie Cho who is a friend of a friend of my brother, Alan Lau. Recently my book, The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food from around the World was recently released by University of California Press. I will be in Vancouver in mid-November and will do a book signing at Barbara-Jo’s Book for Cooks on 11/14.
    The book is about the nomads of China, known as the Hakka. They have a long and unique history of migration that led them from northern China to scattered settlements throughout the world. The book is about my journey from China to Peru to Toronto to find my Hakka identity through what I know best, food. I used to be a food writer/recipe editor for Sunset Magazine for more than 34 years. The book is more than recipes, it is a history lesson, memoir, stories of migration. My brother, Alan Lau, also contributed art that gracefully weaves through the pages. There is a short section on the Chinese in Canada and many Hakka from Toronto are featured. Since I will be in Vancouver, I’m wondering if there are any media I should contact. My publisher has contacted some but I thought you might have other suggestions, Thanks, Linda

    Reply
  5. admin Post author

    2013 Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner will be:
    January 27th, Sunday
    Floata Restaurant
    Vancouver Chinatown.

    Tickets available soon – stay tuned to this website.

    Reply
  6. alfie 888

    Attended an afternoon function, 18 February, at the Villa Colombo building, part of the Columbus Centre complex, pride of The Italian Canadian Nation. Jason Kenny was the featured speaker, in his capacity as The Minister responsible for the CHRP, under which programme, The Harper Government has distributed many millions of our Canadian tax dollars for to fund projects having an ethnic component. Minister Kenny spoke for 40 plus minutes off the cuff, with no notes up his sleeve. Amazing speaker, almost as good as Premier Kathleen Wynn. Indeed, maybe even more better than Premier Wynn.

    Minister Kenny made it sound so sincere and from the heart that Agent 888 was truly amazed. Minister Kenny and the grants from The Harper Government speek loud and clear. Indeed, Deeds Speak. Will have to take a hard look at where the money has been invested (allocated) over the last few months and years under the CHRP programme. The event was covered by the media with many main stream TV and print news hounds, including the ethnic media, and their pap-paa-rats-zee photographers on hand to get the story, get the best angles and report all what The Minister had to say. We amateurs photographers had to compete for the best angles with the professional papparatzees’ .
    Several video clips were included in the programme prior to Mr. Minister being invited to step up to the lecturn for to deliver his presentation. One of the short video clips (about 1.3 minutes) was from the documentry entitled LOST YEARS.

    Immediately after the Minister finished speaking, his handlers pulled him into the corner of the room for a media scrum and Agent 888 could not get near to hear questions and witness the action. No doubt the Minister’s visit will get covered on the local, regional and maybe even the National news wires.

    Traffic on the mean streets of Our Toronto appears to be very light today because it is a quasi holiday and many stores and offices are closed to celebrate the Provincial holiday.

    The End. signed Agent 888 in Toronto.

    Reply
  7. Your sometimes GHFC DB steersman

    Hey Toddo

    Happy AHM to you! I like the Heritage Cda TV add that’s running right now even tho it is Harpey-esque.

    VerySorry to hear about your medical troubles. (I’ll lay off making any corney-al jokes.)

    Did you get to see the Central Ballet of China’s Swan Lake performance when they were here on tour your last month?

    I was thinking about you and GHFC lately because I just made myself (designed & sewed) the most delightful wonderful bespoke kilt! It is a cross between a conventional 4 yard kilt and a cotton canvas utilikilt, with pleated tartan ( black and heather grey with white stitch thread, beautiful… bolt end remainder from Dress Sew on Hastings street so last yardage, don’t know the pattern name hwvr) from hip crest to hip crest going posteriorally and pleated black cotton canvas over the front lower torso to the knees, with side handwarmer pockets. Still gotta add some belt loops maybe. Fastenes using 3″ wide velcro waist band rather than leather brelt straps.

    Got to initiate wearing it at the Vancouver Marathon ystrdy (pulled an all nighter to finish sewing it!) where the band with whom I play highland side drum (snare) was stationed at the Beach Avenue entrance to Stanley Park by where the Vancouver Board of Parks & Rec office is located. Thousands of marathon devotees ran past so nice, big appreciative audience for the Drive Street Band… (dot com) … Which is a community band (that welcomes ACCORDIAN PLAYERS!). We rehearse most Sundays 3 – 5pm (or whenever ypu can make it between these two times!) at the Seniors Centre of Britannia Ctty Centre off Commercial Drive. We will likely gig thus year’s 25th Annvsry RTA dragonboat festival —serenading the paddlers at Racers’ Village and strolling the seawall of Creekside Ctty centre and Telus Science World… Maybe even playing down on the docks or even from onboard a adragonboat that’s floating off the Imax geodesic dome, we’ll see. Am working on this withFestival mngmnt. Should be a gas!!! BYOA! (Accordian).

    Hope to drum your next kilt walk at Stanley Park or wherever… Let me know with plenty a warning.

    When Will The GHFC pipe(s) and drum(s) next be performin, I wonder aloud here.

    As Aways!

    Reply
  8. Rick Rose

    Todd,

    Great to meet you on Saturday night, and loved the accordian music as well. ;D I also meant to ask you if there are any Gung Haggis Fat Choy shirts available, as I have a dear friend who would love one of these. Please let me know, and please do keep in touch.

    Rick

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Gung Haggis Fat Choy! | Gluten Free International

  10. Nancy Macdonald

    Hi Todd,

    My name is Nancy Macdonald; I’m with Maclean’s magazine, based in Vancouver.
    We’re looking to put together a story asking MACs (Mackenzies, Macdonalds, MacMillans, MacQueens, and McWongs) to talk about how they feel on the subject of the Scottish referendum..
    Might you be interested in speaking to us?

    Many thanks in advance for your help,
    Nancy Macdonald

    Reply
  11. Sydney Robertson

    Hi Todd,
    Thanks for your post on our South End Nanaimo blog. We held a small GHFC dinner last year, and love the concept very much. I had tried to make contact with you at that time, but I’m having trouble finding an email address or other contact information. Could you reply to this email address, please, so that we can have a conversation about what might be possible in the future? Thanks a bunch, Sydney

    Reply
  12. Yvonne Murphy

    Hi Todd

    Gung Haggis Fat Choy will be included in the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry!
    The panel is currently being stitched and if you contact me I will send you the image for your interest.
    Also hoping for some assistance with a few words to tell the story.
    Hope to hear from you.

    Yvonne Murphy

    Reply
  13. Jane Ferguson

    Hi Todd,

    We are making a documentary on Scottish identity and culture and would love to include some images from Gung Haggis Fat Choy events. If you have any pictures that you would be willing to share and release to us, I would love to hear from you. I can give you more info on our project too.

    Thanks
    Jane

    Reply
  14. Leslie Wait

    Hi Todd,
    I was at Science World this morning and see that it’s that time of year again! I wish “Gung Haggis Fat Chow’ all the “very best” this season and hope to see you at some of the races:) Warm regards, Leslie

    Reply
  15. Gary Quon

    Hi Todd

    my name is Gary. we spoke briefly via email when I was working at Haro Park Centre. Sadly, you were too ill to attend. I hope you are feeling much better this year.
    anyways, I am planning my Robbie Burns Day for 2016. Are you still available to do a performance in January 21st. Thursday?

    by the way, this will be for my new place of employment, Columbus Residence located at Cambie and marine dr.

    please email me back either at gquong@columbusresidence.ca or call me at Columbus (Thursdays to Saturdays) at 604-321-4405 ext 124

    looking forward to hear from you back. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Josephine Christensen

    Hi Toddish,
    I am a research student in the UK and I am doing some research
    on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy.
    I wanted to ask you some questions about the events history and its growth and also about aspects of its interculturalism.
    Would you please email me on
    jat640@gmail.com
    Thanks
    JO

    Reply
  17. walter

    Hi Todd – I would like to include a photograph of yourself in a kilt celebrating Gung Haggis Fat Choy for a book that we are publishing. Preferably there is one of you on the SFU Campus. The higher resolution the better.

    many thanks

    look forwarding to hearing from you
    walter

    Reply
  18. Linda Yip

    Hi there, T. McWong. I’m a longtime reader of Gung Haggis and a fellow Chinese history & genealogy buff/ freak. Also a member of clan Yip Sang. And, you may know my uncle Larry, who was heavily involved with Vancouver’s dragon boating scene for a time.

    As you may see from my website, I’m currently living in Saskatoon, but will be travelling to YVR shortly. I was wondering if you’d have time to meet up for a coffee & chat? It appears we have lots in common and I think it would be fun. PM me if you’re up for it.

    Linda

    Reply
  19. Jack Booker

    Hi Todd,

    I work for ScotlandShop.com where I am working on blogs about Burn’s Night and hope to do a feature on Burns’ Nights around the world. I just stumbled upon Gung Haggis Fat Choy and I think it is amazing! I lived in Taiwan for a few years and really wished we had something like this. I’d love to feature you in our blogs, please get in touch if you want to take part.

    Jack

    Reply
  20. India Young

    Hello Todd,

    I am in search of a Todd Wong who wrote for the Ubyssey in 1986. If you happen to be that Todd I would love the opportunity to exchange some emails with you. I can be reached at iry@unm.edu

    Regards,
    India Young

    Reply
  21. Anna Kantur

    Hi,

    I heard about Gung Haggis Fat Choy but couldn’t find any information about the event for 2017.

    Can you please tell me where and when you usually celebrate it? I live in Vancouver, and I would absolutely love to attend the 2018 event!

    Thank you,
    Anna

    Reply
  22. Michelle Teoh

    Thank you for sharing this article. As an immigrant of a Chinese descent from Malaysia, I cannot express my gratitude and appreciation for what he has done for Chinese people in Canada. I am a teacher in Grade 4 and I have just discovered his story now and cannot wait to share what I’ve learned! I have a new perspective that I can include of what I’ve learned for this Remembrance Day in 2021! Thank you, Roy Mah and everyone who has kept his story alive!

    Reply
  23. Evelyn Osborne

    Hi,
    I run a folklore centre in Hong Kong, the new Fiddlehead Folklore Institute. As we are now under Covid restrictions again both my Scottish music and CNY calligraphy workshops are cancelled. So i’m inspired by your Gung Haggis Fat Choy to have a virtual event with cultural presentations from both. I hope you don’t mind if I host one. I don’t know your actual format and would love to connect with you shortly. I just decided to try in the past few days. Kindly be in touch if you want. Anyhow, thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply

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