Category Archives: Chinatown Vancouver

Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization program doing community consultations

Revitalization
study of Vancouver Chinatown underway
There is a community open house, with
dinner at Floata Restaurant tomorrow Wednesday 5:30-7:30 with presentations and entertainment.
… and the
consultant is a former dragon boat paddler from San Francisco, that I first became friends with back in 2005.

ftp.vancouver.ca

The
City been working with the community to revitalize Chinatown for many
years.  I have known many people who have been working with the “Chinatown Revitalization Committee.”  Back in 2002, I attended some of the meetings for their arts comittee.  There are many issues that are going on.  

I would love for Chinatown to be revitalized.  My parents and my maternal grandmother grew up in neighboring Strathcona, and my great great grand father Rev. Chan Yu Tan was minister of the Chinese United Church.  Some of my earliest memories are visiting my father's parents who lived at the Maclean Park towers, one block away from Chinatown.

Back in 1986, I was a volunteer and committee member for the exhibition Saltwater City, chaired by author Paul Yee.  It was a museum quality exhibition that celebrated 100 years of the Chinese community in Vancouver.  Paul then wrote a book titled Saltwater City, which won the inaugural City of Vancouver Book Award in 1989.

In 2002, the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives, held a photo and exhibit display titled “Three Pioneer Canadian Chinese Families” – featuring the Rev. Chan Yu Tan Family, along with Lee Bick and H.Y. Louie familes.

I wrote section on Chinatown for New Colourguide for Vancouver,
Victoria & Whistler , published in November 2009 – click on the pictures to link to enlargements
that you can read.

There are many views about what is happening currently in Vancouver Chinatown, and what needs to happen, or should happen.

Here is an article in the Georgia Straight:

Here is a post from the blogsite UGLY CHINESE CANADIAN

Vancouver Sun story about architect Joe Wai and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens

Fantastic
recognition for my role model and “biu-goh” (older cousin) – architect Joe Wai.
Now you can see where I get all this East West fusion stuff – It's in
the family. Our grandfather Wong Wah came to Canada in 1882, at age 16, in Victoria.

East is East and West is West, and 25 years ago the twain met

 

To
celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Dr. Sun Yatsen Classical Chinese
Garden held a Founders reception Friday afternoon, and in attendance
were old friends Joe Wai and Marwyn Samuels. Samuels flew in from his
home in China for the event. Wai flew in from his office on Homer
Street.

 
 
 
 

To
celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Dr. Sun Yatsen Classical Chinese
Garden held a Founders reception Friday afternoon, and in attendance
were old friends Joe Wai and Marwyn Samuels. Samuels flew in from his
home in China for the event. Wai flew in from his office on Homer
Street.

Two people could not be less alike. Wai is an architect.
Samuels, at present, is a movie producer. Wai was born in Hong Kong and
grew up in Vancouver. Samuels, a Jew who was born in New York, got his
PhD in Chinese Studies at the U. of Washington and came to Vancouver as a
UBC professor in 1974. Wai speaks Cantonese. Samuels speaks Mandarin.
Wai's wife is white. Samuels, in his two marriages, married a Filipina
and a Chinese national. They appear to inhabit two different sides of a
cultural divide, but what those sides are is difficult to say. East and
West are not as twain as they used to be.

In the late 1970s,
events brought Wai and Samuels together. The City of Vancouver had
vacant land at the edge of Chinatown, and wanted to build a park for the
Chinese community. Complicating matters was a bitter political divide
within the Chinese community itself -between a pro-Taiwanese faction and
a pro-mainland China faction.

Samuels was thrust in between the
two. The idea of building a Chinese garden had been suggested, so the
City appointed a three-man advisory committee with one representative
from each faction, and Samuels, who acted as intermediary.

Samuels,
as it turned out, may have been the only person in town to have seen a
classical Chinese garden in situ. He had visited China in 1973 and 1975
on study grants, just as the country was beginning to open up to North
Americans. He made important political contacts while he was there -he
met Premier Zhou Enlai, for one -and it was his idea to have Chinese
artisans build a replica of a Ming Dynasty-era garden here.

“Most
of the existing classical gardens [in China] were built in the 16th
century,” Samuels said, “when China was then part of the global economy.
And most of the gardens were built by very wealthy merchants.”

In
time, Wai, who was vicechairman of the Chinese Cultural Centre, would
be brought on as architect for the park surrounding the garden, and
would also be responsible for adapting the garden's ancient techniques
to modern building codes.

But first they had to get the money to
build it. And it would be built as a symbol between the city's two
communities. “Joe and I,” Samuels said, “decided that this should not be
a Chinese community project, but that it should be a whole community
project, that the Chinese community and non-Chinese community should act
together for the first time on a major project like this, and also that
the city's corporate elite get involved.

“I was always conscious of this cultural mix.”

They needed about $6.7 million. A garden society was formed and a fundraising drive was started.

Then the recession of 1981 hit. The donations dried up.

“But
we weren't about to give up,” Samuels said, “and Joe and I became
allies in this. You know the Yiddish word 'macher'? It's like a fixer.
Essentially, Joe, who had good political connections to the city
government and elite, was the local macher, and I was the China macher.”

At
one point, money was so tight that Li Ka-shing, who was developing land
around the garden, offered to buy it as a centrepiece to his
development. The offer was turned down. At another point, they had to
resort to barter. One corporate donor, a forestry company, sent off a
shipment of raw logs and pulp to China as payment.

They needed
more than just donations from the Chinese community, so Wai worked his
contacts within the non-Chinese community, among them Anne Cherniavsky,
wife of Peter Cherniavsky, head of BC Sugar. Wai and Samuels showed her a
design of the garden, and she brought her friends on board. And Wai won
an important donor in David Lam, former B.C. lieutenant-governor.

Lam
donated $1 million, but only on the condition that it would be the last
million donated. Wai and Samuels first had to prove they could get the
garden built.

“We were really desperate for money at the time,”
Samuels said, “and Joe set up two meetings with Lam. When Lam donated
his own money, his commitment to do that was sufficient to get other
people to come in.”

The society -and both Samuels and Wai stressed
that the garden was due to the hard work of many people -finally raised
most of the money. Fiftythree Chinese master craftsmen flew to
Vancouver and built the garden using traditional methods -no glue, no
screws, no power tools.

Wai would resume his architectural work.
Samuels would move to China in 1994 and marry his second wife, a former
movie actress. They now finance and produce movies together.

Oddly,
both men made a similar observation about the garden and its
relationship to Vancouver's Chinese community. It was the first major
cross-cultural project that the Chinese and non-Chinese communities
endeavoured to build, and as such, had a potent symbolism attached to
it. But in the intervening years, the Chinese community has grown so
different and so quickly that Wai and Samuels wondered at the garden's
relevance to it.

“It seems to me,” Wai said, “that the newer
members of the Chinese community aren't as involved in the garden. As a
community, I don't think we know where we're going.”

“That issue
is quite common in China,” Samuels said. “So much has changed so quickly
there that there is this crisis of identity -who are we and where are
we?” It was wealthy Chinese merchants that built the last classical
Chinese gardens in the 16th century. Now, the wealthy Chinese merchants
of the 21st century were moving here.

A classical Chinese garden
to them, Samuels said, was ancient history. Why, having left it behind,
would they necessarily be interested in it when they came here?

pmcmartin@vancouversun.com

Chinese Lunar New Year parade in Vancouver Chinatown

Great pictures of rabbits in the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in Vancouver Chinatown

It is always a wonderful photographic exercise at the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in Vancouver Chinatown.  While the rain scared many people away, it wasn't more than a light drizzle.  I always like to walk around the marshalling area and photograph the groups getting ready for the parade. 

It is always most crowded along Pender St.  So this year, I went to stand along Keefer St, opposite the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park , along the street.  Some people stood behind us along the rise of the Andy Livingston Park, just East of Columbia St.  I bumped into my friends Sonny and Ernesto, who had cycled down to avoid parking hassles.  It was good to catch up on chatting, as well as talk about the parade.  Sonny's niece was dancing with the Vancouver Academy of Dance, and we also waved to his sister-in-law.  I knew many people in the parade, and it was nice to wave, greet them, and take their pictures as they walked by.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

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Toy stuffed rabbits decorate the hood of a car for the Vietnamese community entry. – photo T. Wong

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V3 – Community youth group gather to relax and eat before the start of the parade.  – photo T. Wong


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Miss Vietnam Friendship

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Chinatown Revitalization Committee + BOB.  My friends Bob Sung and Shirley Chan are in this group. photo T.Wong

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Seymour Taiko is a children's Taiko drumming group for Japanese drumming. – photo T.Wong

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V3 and Miss Vietnam all take a picture together – photo T.Wong

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The Easter Bunny arrives early and takes pictures with children! – photo T.Wong

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The Fortune God waves to the audience. – photo T. Wong

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The Fortune God, waves a Canadian flag. – photo T. Wong

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The Chinese Canadian veterans of Pacific Unit 280.  Frank Wong, who landed at Normandy Beaches on D.Day walks behind the flag. Following behind on the right is Col. How Lee, who helped found the Chinese Canadian Military Museum.  This is the 2nd year that my grand-uncle Daniel Lee hasn't been in the parade, as he passed away last year.  I am glad to have met all his friends in Pacific Unit 280, and now count them as my own. photo T. Wong

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The City of Vancouver Police Pipe Band – the only Pipe Band in the parade. – photo T.Wong

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The best dragon in the entire parade – photo T.Wong

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The dragon head is carried by a non-Chinese person, as many of the martial arts clubs have a diversity of membership – photo T.Wong.

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Some of the parade organizers walk with VIPs.  Here is Ida Chong, MLA for Oak Bay/Gordon Head, and Minister of Sciences and Universities, walking with some of the leaders of the Chinatown organizations that organize the parade. photo T.Wong

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Here is a God of Fortune, portrayed by Caucasian-Canadian, demonstrating that the festival is multicultural – photo T.Wong

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Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff wore red for the Vancouver Chinatown parade, photo T.Wong

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CBC Radio One host/producer Sheryl MacKay of North By Northwest, came over to say hello. photo T.Wong

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The Carnival Band always dresses up as the animal of the Chinese Zodiac year.  This year it is the year of the Rabbit. – photo T.Wong.

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Vancity decorated two Smart cars as rabbits. – photo T.Wong

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Even the car had a rabbit tail to go along with its ears – photo T.Wong.

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Another Fortune God, who walked along with the dancers from the Vancouver Academy of Dance – photo T.Wong

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The Vancouver Academy of Dance featured my friend's niece in the front row. – photo T.Wong

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Young dancers from Vancouver Academy of Dance – photo T.Wong

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A flag dancer from Vancouver Academy of Dance – photo T.Wong

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Lion dancers were everywhere – photo T.Wong

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Rabbit masks from the Community Arts Council of Vancouver – photo T.Wong

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Big huge puppet of the Fortune God – photo T.Wong

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My friends who support the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, My cousin Hayne, Allan Cho, and Chris Lee. – photo T.Wong

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The Chinese Revitalization Committe: my friends Glenn Wong, Bob Sung and Rick wave back at me – photo T.Wong

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First Nations drummers lead the Canadians for Reconciliation, marching in solidarity for First Nations peoples – photo T.Wong

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Bill Chu, of the Canadians for Reconciliation waves back – photo T. Wong

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Shane Simpson MLA for Vancouver Hastings, shows the red envelops that he was handing out along the parade route – photo T.Wong

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Vancouver City Councilor Kerry Jang and his two children give out lucky red envelopes – photo T.Wong

Here are all my photos from the parade on my Flickr account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157625993620790/

Vancouver Sun story:
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Crowd+greets+soggy+Year+with+high+spirits/4233477/story.html

Vancouver Chinatown Parade is Sunday, January 6th, 12pm to 2pm

Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown
begins 12 noon on Sunday Feb 6th

The Vancouver Chinatown Parade is one of Vancouver's most exciting and colourful festival events.  Last year it was almost canceled due to a conflict in scheduling times with the 2010 Winter Olympics, due to an afternoon hockey game.  The Chinatown parade was moved to an earlier time, to accommodate the clearing of the streets for security for the hockey game.  see http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=3515660f-0152-4ab2-973a-f4cc66d62f98

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Here's
a Chinese parade dragon.  How to tell a dragon from a lion?  You wear
the lion costume over your body, while the dragon is always held up on
poles!

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Lots of local politicians pass out lucky red envelopes (li-see), here is Vancouver city councilor Kerry Jang handing out lucky red envelopes called “li-see” for good luck!

Here are some details of the 2011 Chinese New Year Parade from the website of the Chinese Benevolent Association.  – one of the main organizers of the parade.

Chinese New Year Parade

The Chinese New Year Parade, Vancouver Chinatown's signature
event, will return on February 6th, 2011. With lion dances, cultural
dance troupes, marching bands and more, this parade is a cultural
extravaganza not to be missed. Come see the sights, sounds and
festivities of Chinese New Year to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit!

2011 Parade Highlights

The Chinese New Year Parade celebrates the new year of the Chinese
lunar calendar and is a fun-filled event for everyone to enjoy.
According to the City of Vancouver, the parade is one of the three
largest non-commercial annual parades of Vancouver. The parade features
the largest assembly of traditional lion dance teams in Canada with
dozens of colourful and energetic lions from the various local fraternal
and martial arts organizations. Other highlights include multicultural
dance troupes representing the diverse segments of our Canadian cultural
heritage, the Vancouver Police Department Motorcycle Drill Team,
marching bands and various community groups. The parade is expected to
have some sixty non-commercial entries, bringing over 3,000 participants
from various community and cultural groups. It is not surprising that
the parade draws over 50,000 spectators along the route each year plus
many more seeing it through TV coverage.

2011 Parade Schedule

The 2011 parade will start at 12:00 noon sharp on Sunday, February 6th, 2011, and will take two hours to complete.

Parade Route

The parade route is about 1.2 Km long. The starting point is at the
Millennium Gate on Pender Street (between Shanghai Alley and Taylor
Street), the parade will proceed east along Pender Street, turn south
onto Gore Street, turn west onto Keefer Street and then disperse at
Keefer and Columbia.
See map
here

Here is my article and picture of last year's parade.
http://www.gunghaggis.com/blog/_archives/2010/2/15/4457294.html

2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a big success… or was it Gung HAPA Fat Choy?

GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY VANCOUVER!

We celebrated the 14th Annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner on January 30th, 2011.
Our 2011 theme featured so many performers of Asian-Celtic-Gaelic heritage that we could have called it
Gung HAPA Fat Choy!

Co-hosts were actor Patrick Gallagher (Glee, Men of a Certain Age, Night at the Museum), Jenna Choy (CBC Radio), writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu, and creator of the event Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong”Featured performers were: Jocelyn Pettit and her band – Siew & Joel Pettit + Bob Collins
Joe McDonald on pipes, accordion, Address to the Haggis, and Highland Fling.
Jay MacDonald, performing Loch Lomand and “Ring of Burns”
Jaime Foster singing Ae Fond Kiss
Vancouver Poet Laureate: Brad Cran
Dr. Leith Davis: Immortal Memory
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums: led by Pipe Major Bob Wilkins with: Allan McMordie, Trish McMoride, Brenda McNair, Don Scobie, Danny Graham, drummers were: Casandra Lihn, Bill Burr and Tracey Morris

All photos below from our official photographer Lydia Nagai.
www.lydianagai.com

photo
Creator and co-host Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, try out the haggis won ton with chop sticks. – photo Lydia Nagai
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Fiddler Jocelyn Pettit with her French-Celtic-Canadian father and the Chinese-Canadian mother – the Jocelyn Pettit Band! – photo Lydia Nagai
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CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski and his cameraman film Jocelyn Pettit as she performs! – photo Lydia Nagai

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Actor Patrick Gallagher was our co-host, while our Bearded Scottish Lady roamed, and all posed for a picture with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and host and Gung Haggis creator Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai

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Co-hosts 3 =  2 1/2 Asians…. Todd Wong, writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu and Jenna Chow (CBC Radio). – photo Lydia Nagai

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Todd Wong and Jenna Chow read the poem “Recipe For Tea”, written by Jim Wong-Chu, which describes how tea first traveled from China to the UK, via Scottish traders. – photo Lydia Nagai

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Floata manager Antonio Hung carries the haggis during the Piping of the Haggis – photo Lydia Nagai

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Dr. Leith Davis, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, cuts the haggis, as she read the 3rd verse of Robert Burns immortal poem “Address To A Haggis” as CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski, films Leith close up. – photo Lydia Nagai

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Film maker Jeff Chiba Stearns explains the meaning of “Hapa” as a word to describe people of Mixed ancestry with Asian heritage.  His film “One Big Hapa Family” was featured at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  Co-host Patrick Gallagher, of Irish and Chinese Ancestry, looks on. – photo Lydia Nagai

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The Head Table with MLA Shane Simpson, co-host Jenna Chow and friend Mattias, Meeka, Bahareh (partner of co-host Tetsuro Shigematsu),  co-host and founder Todd Wong, Jeff Chiba Stearns and partner Jen Kato. – photo Lydia Nagai

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Musician Joe McDonald, sans bagpipes, flute or accordion – dances a jig, with bagpiper Don Scobie. – photo Lydia Nagai

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Dr. Leith Davis, gives the Immortal Memory – talking about the “Life of Robbie Burns” and the connections of Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai

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Trish & Allan McMordie, with guitarists Jay MacDonald and Bob Collins, join in the singing of “I Went to a Robbie Burns Dinner” – Burns lyrics set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s famous song – “Ring of Fire” – photo Lydia Nagai

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During the singing of Auld Lang Syne, people joined hands to sing…. as the Chinese Dragon weaved through the crowd. – photo Lydia Nagai

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Members of the audience joined performers on stage to sing Auld Lang Syne for the closing song.
(l-r Siew Pettit, Jocelyn Pettit, Todd Wong, Trish McMordie, Allan McMordie + 3 members of the audience) – photo Lydia Nagai

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After the singing was over, a posed picture of kilts and legs, was taken!
(l-r: bearded Scots Lady, Bruce Clark, Todd Wong, Adam Todd, Don Harder and Allan McMordie – photo Lydia Nagai

2011 Menu revealed for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

Steamed Wild Sockeye Salmon – new feature for 2011 Menu + new style of haggis won ton

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Bagpipers Trish and Allan McMordie are hungry for wild sockeye salmon – photo T.Wong

It was January 26th, the day after Robbie Burns Day.  We had our taste-test dinner music rehearsal tonight… and are very happy!
Good music and good food – what could be better?  This is a great way for us to ensure that both food quality and music quality is a high standard. 

There are always changes for the dinner menu for the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  We try to vary the dinner
items from year to year, add some new surprises, take out items we are
bored with.  !  We have added a new dish – steamed wild sockeye salmon. We have brought back long life E-Fu Noodles and we have created a new look to the Haggis & Shrimp deep-fried won ton.

Vegetarian dishes?  Lots of them… We alternate vegetarian and meat dishes. My mother complains if there aren't enough vegetarian dishes.  Good thing she also eats fish!  If you are looking for beef…. It's in the haggis.

1. Floata Appetizer Platter

a. Haggis Pork dumpling (Shiu Mai)
b. Turnip cake (Lo-bak-goh) Vegetarian
c. Honey BBQ Pork
d. Jelly Fish

2. Deep fried haggis & shrimp won ton – NEW LOOK
3. Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup
4. Traditional Haggis – Beef
5. Diced Vegetable with Lettuce Wrap
6. Steamed Wild Sockeye Salmon with ginger, soy sauce, and seared with hot oil.  NEW
7. Budda Feast with Deep Fried Tofu
8. Deep Fried Crispy Chicken
9. Long Life E-Fu Noodles with Mushroom Sauce  NEW
10. Dessert: Mango & Coconut Pudding

10-course traditional Chinese Dinner featuring:

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1)  
Cold platter (Fusion of Chinese and Scottish Appetizers – Won Ton;
Haggis Siu Mai; and Jelly fish – Vegetarian spring rolls or BBQ pork).

Haggis stuffed shu-mei pork dumplings – Dim
Sum means “pieces of the heart” or “pieces that touch the heart.” 
Absolutely delicious morsels of delicacy and succulence… and we stuff
them with haggis!  It's either very good or very “offal.”  But people
are always so hungry they eat it up without realizing they are having
haggis.
Neeps and tatties
are a tradition serving at Burns dinners, so we like to have pan-fried
turnip cakes – a staple at dim sum lunches… just like my great-grandma
used to make.
Honey BBQ Pork – what more can you say? 
Jelly fish -  a strange Chinese delicacy… rubbery… weird… textury… the perfect
compliment to haggis.  Photographers can try stuffing their haggis with
jelly fish, for a memorable portrait.

This year, the appetizer
platter will be served promptly at 6pm.  So we encourage every body to
arrive between 5 and 5:45pm, so they can order their drinks from the
bar, and browse the raffle prizes, and sign up for their free subscription to Ricepaper Magazine.
 

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2) Deep-fried Haggis & Shrimp Won Ton – New Look!
We are combining haggis and shrimp in this dish.  When I created the
first deep-fried haggis won-ton in 2003, it was a gift to welcome CBC
radio host Shelagh Rogers and her Sounds Like Canada crew to Vancouver.
My gift was the creation of deep-fried haggis won ton which symbolized the new generations growing up with mixed cultures.  Last weekend in Nanaimo, we again combined with Sh
elagh Rogers and created the inaugural Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner for a private party that also celebrated her birthday, as we combined Scottish, Chinese and First Nations history and culture. This NEW LOOK haggis won ton is modeled after that dinner.

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3)   Vegetarian Hot & Sour soup or maybe Winter Melon soup.
At the very first legendary
private Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner for 16 friends, I cooked up a
Winter Melon soup with lemon grass.  It was wonderful! 
It's a good
hearty soup full of vegetables that I think Rabbie would enjoy.  Very
appropriate for Chinese New Year.
  Shark
Fin soup is a traditional soup for wedding banquets, and was one of my favorite soups as a
youth, but due to its environmental impact of
Shark fishing – it is not an option now. I now support the movement to ban
Shark Fin soup!  

4)   Haggis ( piped in with Scottish bagpipes) Chinese Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
We
are moving up the Haggis offering this year.  In past years, it was
menu item #6 or #7.  The piping in of the haggis is always an important
ceremony at any Burns Dinner.  But too much bagpiping can turn a lot
of heads in a Chinese restaurant.  It is also very important to read
the Burns poem “Address to a Haggis”
prior to the serving of haggis.  So please…. do NOT cut into your
haggis, until after we have finished reading the poem.  Oh – by the
way… We don't usually do the usual traditional reading of the
poem.

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5) Chinese Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
How
man
y ways can you serve haggis?  Take a spoonful of haggis, spread some
Chinese plum sauce on it, add some crunchy noodles and diced vegetables
with water chestnuts, and wrap it up in a delicate piece of lettuce.
Magnificient!  Imagine if Marco Polo should have brought back lettuce
wrap to Italy instead of noodles?  Or if you are vegetarian – leave out
the haggis.

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6)  Steamed Wild Sockeye Salmon.  This is what I cooked at the very first
Gung Haggis dinner back in 1998, but have never served at the dinners following for some reason  Past seafood dishes have been ginger crab, crab & lobster, pan fried spicy prawns, .  After paddling down the Fraser River
for the “Paddle for Wild Salmon


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7)   Buddha feast with deep-fried tofu
This
is
an important traditional New Year dish – with lots of
vegetables that are good for you such as lotus root, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms.  All the good things that every vegetarian
loves.  The
Chinese calendar is based on the 12 animals that came when
Buddha called.  The first animal to see Buddha was the Rat, I was born
in the
Year of the Rat.
  Next came the Ox, Tiger, then the Rabbit.

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8)   Crispy skinned chicken with shrimp chips
Another dish that was a childhood favorite.  Healthier than KFC.  And the shrimp chips were always my favorites as a child. 

9)   E-Fu noodles with Mushroom sauce
 
Long
noodles signify long life – a very important part of traditional Chinese
New Year greetings.  I really like the E-Fu noodles.  They are lighter
than regular Chow Mein noodles – very heavenly.  Another traditional
belief is that the Kitchen God goes to heaven, to report on the family. 
Maybe this is why the e-fu noodles are so special! 
This
is the dish you eat to fill yourself up, if you are still hungry.  We
had E-Fu long life noodles in 2008, but a lot of the Scottish people
thought that these traditional delicate noodles were too plain.  There
wasn't a strong sauce on them, and they weren't like chow mein
noodles… because they were E-Fu noodles!  Maybe it's an acquired
taste (like haggis).

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10)  Mango & Coconut pudding
Last year we alternated mango and coconut pudding at alternated tables. 
It's always a tradition to have
something sweet after the meal. 
The contrasting tastes of each, heightens the taste of the other.  So now to get both the sweet and subtle flavors, in typical Gung Haggis tradition, we have combined both flavors in one pudding… kind of like a mango-coconut swirl.  We thought about having Scottish blood
pudding… but the moment passed….

Gung Haggis Vancouver dinner joined by new dinners in Victoria and Nanaimo

Toddish McWong's Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinners
come to Victoria and Nanaimo!


I have long wanted to do a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner in Victoria and Nanaimo.  These are both significant cities in BC history for Scottish and Chinese pioneers.

Victoria Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – January 22nd, Golden City Restaurant
Nanaimo Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – January 23rd, Iron Wok Restaurant
Seating is limited, and by invitation only.

I want to create small intimate dinners that were like the first restaurant Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner of 40 people, which followed the initial dinner of 16 people in a living room.  At the very first dinner, I invited friends – many of whom had Chinese or Scottish ancestry.  Each guest was asked to bring a song or a poem from Chinese or Scottish culture, or help present a Robbie Burns Supper tradition.  I cooked most of the Chinese dishes that were served.  I made a lemon grass winter melon soup, stir-fried snow peas with scallops, steamed salmon with garlic and hot oil, sticky rice.  Fiona brought the haggis.  Rod picked up the lettuce wrap from Chinese take out.  Gina made a noodle dish. 

And in between each dinner course, we read a poem or sang a song.  I read Recipe for Tea, from the Chinese-Canadian anthology “Swallowing Clouds,” written by my friend Jim Wong-Chu, which described how tea first came to the UK from China via Scottish traders.”  Gloria read the Burns poem “To A Mouse”.  Her friend gave a Toast to the Laddies.  Gloria even hired a bagpiper!  It was a wonderful evening…  the first Burns Supper I ever attended.  And I only learned about the elements of a Burns Supper, by going to the Vancouver Library where I worked, and asking for details at the reference desk.

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Rev. Chan Yu Tan is 4th from the left, standing beside his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai, at the 50th Anniversary of the Chinese United Church in Victoria.

Victoria was the first port of entry for all the Chinese immigrants coming across the Pacific Ocean by boat.  It once was one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, and the oldest in Canada.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan arrived in Victoria in 1896, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai, who came in 1891 to help found the Chinese Methodist Church, which later became the Chinese United Church. This has now been told in the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.

Meanwhile, on my paternal grandfather, Wong Wah, also came to Victoria, as a sixteen year old in 1882.  He worked in a Chinese dry goods store for his uncle, and later managed the store as it became one of Victoria's largest Chinese merchant stores.

Scottish influence is found throughout Victoria.  It is as easy as the street names of Caledonia, Balmoral and Craigflower.  The first governor of British Columbia James Douglas was schooled in Scotland, due to his Scottish father's influence, even though his mother was a creole free black.  It was Robert Dunsmuir, born in Hurlford Scotland near the town of Kilmarnock, that became one of the richest men in North America by being a coal baron.  Dunsmuir served as premier of BC, as did his son. Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, was built by Dunsmuir as a gift to his wife, but he died a year before it was completed.

Rev. Chan Yu Tan also ministered at the Chinese United Church in Nanaimo. From there, he would often travel to the mining town of Cumberland to also minister to the Chinese labourers there.  It was coal baron Robert Dunsmuir that owned the coal mines around Cumberland and Nanaimo.  During a general strike at the mines, Dunsmuir used Chinese labourers as strike breakers.  Although it is now little more than a ghost town of a few remaining buildings, Cumberland was once one of Canada's largest Chinatowns – so big that it could sustain two Chinese opera houses.  Author Paul Yee's new play Jade in Coal was set in Cumberland.

I am looking forward to creating inaugural Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinners
in both Victoria and Nanaimo, as I have so much family history in both cities.  The Victoria dinner will follow the board meeting for The
Land Conservancy of BC
.  TLC executive director Bill Turner has attended
many Gung Haggis dinners in Vancouver, and our TLC Board Chair Alistair Craighead was born near Glasgow Scotland.  Vice-Chair Briony Penn worked for the National Trust of Scotland many years ago, and helped create “Tam O'Shanter Experience” that was featured at the Robert Burns National Heritage Park, that has now built the Robert Burns National Birthplace Museum to replace the “Tam O'Shanter Experience.”

The Nanaimo dinner will be a joint-venture with my friend Shelagh Rogers, CBC broadcaster, who now hosts The Next Chapter on CBC radio.  Shelagh has been organizing Reconciliation dinners between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people.  Awhile back, she asked me about creating something similar to a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner, which she co-hosted with me in 2005.  I said, “How about a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner” that could embrace all three pioneer cultures?  And that is exactly what we will have on January 23rd.  We are inviting friends with Chinese, Scottish and First Nations ancestry and culture and having a dinner.  We shall see what people bring to the table in songs and poetry that will reflect our desire for cultural harmony and fusion, as well as reverence for our shared but distinctive past.

See pictures and story from Nanaimo Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner
 http://www.gunghaggis.com/blog/_archives/2011/1/25/4737140.html

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A picture of Toddish McWong included in 150 of BC's historical and contemporary figures invited to “The Party” installation to help celebrated 150 years of BC History at the Royal BC Museum in 2008.

Hogan's Alley Cafe: Best Coffee Shop to have a Christmas Eve snack at

Hogan's Alley Cafe coffee shop acknowledges Vancouver's Black History

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Hogan's Alley Cafe is a new coffee shop on the edge of Chinatown.  It's along the historic “Hogan's Alley” area  at the corner of Union and Gore, just at the East end of the block, down from the Jimi Hendrix Shrine @ Main & Union, off the lane.

I asked owner Jennifer Halley why she re-named the former Bean Around the World, as Hogan's Alley.  Her answer simply was to reflect the historical nature of Vancouver's heritage.  Eventually, she would like to add more artwork and artifacts to acknowledge the lost chapter of  Vancouver's only Black neighborhood, which was torn down to create the Georgia Viaduct connector to Prior St.

We chatted about the area, and asked if she knew about Black History Month in February.  Jennifer said that some of the organizers had just been in that morning and were looking to set something up in the new year, as one of them is Terry Hunter, creator of the Heart of the City Festival with his partner Savannah Walling.  I shared with Jennifer, that I had been featured in the recent Heart of the City Festival, when I moderated a showing of the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, had ministered at the old Chinese United Church, which used to stand at the Northeast corner of Pender and Dunlevy St., before it was torn down in the 70's to make way for condominiums.  My grandmother and her siblings, as well as my parents all went to Strathcona Elementary School.  The houses they lived in still stand on Pender and Princess Streets.

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Food!  I asked Jennifer for the house specialties.  She made me an Americano coffee and served me up one of the pan-pressed eggwich with feta cheese and spinach.  Delicious!  But the favorite at the cafe is the eggwich with bacon!  Already sold out  :-(

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Jennifer takes a pose on top of the coffee maker, after she climbed onto the top of the counter.  And yes… she is 7 months pregnant.

It was a wonderful visit a a new-to-me coffee shop, and a great meeting with Jennifer and her husband Mike!

Check out the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project Blog
http://hogansalleyproject.blogspot.com/

More later…  Merry Christmas.

Vancouver Sun features Heart in the City Festival – Generations: The Chan Legacy is the 1st event listed in “At A Glance”

Generations: The Chan Legacy” is the top feature of the Vancouver Sun's “Festival at a Glance”

Generations:
The Chan Legacy – features the history of Chinese Canadians told
through 5 generations of descendants from Rev. Chan Yu Tan who arrived
in Canada in 1896, following his elder brother's footsteps to minister
to Chinese pioneers. Community service is a featured story in each generation of this CBC documentary.


7:30pm  Thursday Oct 28

Chinese Cultural Centre Museum 555 Columbia.

http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/program/thursday-october-28/



I attended the Opening Gala for the Heart of the City Festival 2pm at Carnegie Centre.  Special guest was Lt. Gov. Steven Point.  He was very funny and serious, sharing stories about his first visits to Main & Hastings as a young law student. 
This pictures features the Carnegie Jazz Band playing “Sweet Georgia Brown

Great news – Vancouver Sun ran a story on the front page their Arts Section.  They featured a sidebar story “At a Glance” and the first event listed is Generations: The Chan Legacy!

Entertainment
news on celebrities, music, theatre reviews, television, local TV
listings guide, books and contests. Read Vancouver Sun to get current
news on entertainment in Vancouver.,To many people the Downtown Eastside
is an intimidating place: a dangerous, dirty, drug-infested 'hood

Generations: The Chan Legacy documentary to be shown Oct 28 at Heart of the City Festival

Great news for BC history and genealogy buffs.  The CBC documentary about the Rev. Chan Family descendants is being shown at Heart of the City Festival on Oct 28.

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http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/program/thursday-october-28/
Film & Conversation
THE
REV. CHAN FAMILY LEGACY: Five Generations of Vancouver

Chinese
History 1888 to 2007

Thursday October 28, 7:30pm
Chinese Cultural
Centre Museum & Archives, 555 Columbia

The Chan family
first came to Canada to help start the Chinese Methodist Church and
every generation since has made contributions to Canadian society. In
2007, filmmaker Halya Kuchmij interviewed members of one of the oldest
families on the West Coast and made a documentary about the stories and
achievements of Reverend & Mrs. Chan, their sons Luke Chan
(Hollywood actor) and Jack Chan (golfer); grandchildren Helen Lee and
Victor Wong (WW2 veteran); great-grandchildren Gary Lee (entertainer)
and Janice Wong (artist); and great-great grandchildren Todd Wong
(community and cultural activist) and Tracey Hinder (high school
student). The many turns of the Chan family reflect the challenges of
exclusion, the fight for rights, the strength of family and citizenship,
and the right to vote. The festival is pleased to show The Chan
Legacy
, directed by Halya Kuchmij, from the CBC Learning
Generations Series (2007, 43:37) and we are fortunate to have Todd Wong
moderate the conversation afterwards. Todd is a descendent of Reverend
Chan and the creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, the annual celebration of
Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Day (www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com) -
an event that marries two cultures that once lived completely separate
in the early days of British Columbia. Everyone welcome. Free

This was the lead show in the CBC Generations series that aired
on July 4th 2007.  The purpose was to interview multigenerational families across Canada, and help tell the story of Canada through the lives of that family.

I am a 5th generation great-great-grand son of Rev. Chan Yu Tan, and one of the featured stories.  My grandmother's sister Helen Lee and cousin Victor Wong are both interviewed and tell stories about their grandparents Rev. & Mrs. Chan Yu Tan, whom they respectively lived with and visited as children.  

Victor Wong is a WW2 veteran and shares stories about becoming a soldier for Special Forces operations with his cousins Howard and Leonard Lee, while Dan Lee was one of the first Chinese Canadians in the Airforce.  All this happened at a time when Canadians of Chinese ancestry were not allowed to vote in Canada, until after the Chinese-Canadian veterans returned from WW2 and lobbied the Canadian government to repeal the 1925 Chinese Exclusion Act.

Gary Lee, also tells stories about Rev. Chan's sons Luke Chan, who became an actor in Hollywood, and Jack Chan – an avid golfer and the first Chinese Canadian to serve on jury duty.

Artist Janice Wong is shown working and attending book launches for her recipe/memoir book “Chow: From China to Canada: Memories of Food + Family”
– which shares the history of the Rev. Chan family through her father Dennis Wong, chef of Chinese restaurants in Sasketchewan, son of the Rev's daughter Rose, and Victor's brother.

13 year old Tracey Hinder is seen winning the inaugural Vancouver area Canspell contest.  Tracey goes on to compete at the National Canspell in Ottawa and the Scripps in Washington DC.  Tracey is interviewed as a high school student, dedicated to learning about her community and family histoy.

Todd Wong is a community and cultural activist, known for creating Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  Excerpts from the CBC produced television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” are shown along with Todd's community commitments including the saving of the Historic Joy Kogawa House, Terry Fox Run, and dragon boat racing.

5 of the 7 part series are available for for sale through the CBC Learning Division
The
Chan Legacy

The
McCurdy Birthright

The
Crowfoot Dynasty

100
Years in Alberta

100
Years in Saskatchewan

http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/program/thursday-october-28/