Category Archives: 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

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


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.

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
Fiddler Jocelyn Pettit with her French-Celtic-Canadian father and the Chinese-Canadian mother – the Jocelyn Pettit Band! – photo Lydia Nagai

CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski and his cameraman film Jocelyn Pettit as she performs! – photo Lydia Nagai

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

Shelagh Rogers interviews Ken McGoogan, author of How the Scots Invented Canada

Ken McGoogan is interviewed on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter by Shelagh Rogers.
– with a mention of Gung Haggis Fat Choy by Shelagh

How the Scots Invented Canada by Ken McGoogan

Note that the tartan featured is the Maple Leaf tartan, featuring the yellow, green and red colours of a changing maple leaf.

It's a lively interview that Shelagh has with Ken McGoogan.  Of particular interest, McGoogan talks about pluralism and how the Scots themselves are an ethnically diverse group,

Shelagh: “I want to get back to pluralism because i find this a very interesting impact of the Scots in Canada, the population has never exceeded 16% of the country.  What do you think it wa was it about the Scots and what they brought over that created this pluralistic vision.

Ken: “Yes, that's a wonderful question Shelagh, because and you;re quite right to focus on that  because that to me is one of the central  themes of the book, and probably my favorite theme that arises in the book, because I do see Canada as multicultural and multi-racial. And I do trace that back… on the pluralism of the Scots themselves.  It's also interesting, the Scots were, First of all, they felt they were underdogs in relation to the English, Scots have always felt that England has always treated Scots badly.  There always had been this undertone of tension in the Scots' feeling to be underdogs.  But at the same time, in addition to that feeling, it made them more empathetic to other peoples than they might otherwise have been.  You also have the Scots being well educated and highly literate much earlier than almost anywhere in Europe.”

And McGoogan talks about Robert Burns, and his influence in Canada.  He calls it “singular and amazing,” who there are Burns statues and influences in Canadian cities from Halifax to Victoria.

Check out the TNC Special Podcast – Ken McGoogan

Shelagh's special unabridged conversation with Ken McGoogan, author of “How the Scots Invented Canada”.

Right click to Download TNC Special Podcast – Ken McGoogan
[mp3 file: runs 34:53]

Go to 18:10 to listen to Shelagh Rogers tell Ken McGoogan about Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Here are some reviews of McGoogan's book and a link to his own web page.

  1. Ken McGoogan: HOME

    Ken McGoogan is the author of four Canadian bestsellers about the search for the Northwest in October 2010, will publish How the Scots Invented Canada. – 

Best every Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – Big hearted thanks to our performers, volunteers, & audience

Special thanks to EVERYBODY
that made Gung Haggis happen!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy would not happen without you
all. Lots of people said it was the BEST yet…

Special thanks to our audience who continue to attend and tell their friends, our performers and volunteers – without which this event could not happen.

Thank you to:
Carl and Charlie, for sound and stage support that made everything seem
Tetsuro, Jenna and Patrick – for being great co-hosts, sharing yourselves and being great sports
Jocelyn, Siew and Joel Pettit for wonderful music that filled hearts
Brad for your poetry – I LOVE that whale poem – an equivalent to “To A
Leith – for your Burns expertise (you're going to be on CNN cutting the
Trish and Allan for continued bagpipe support
Joe – for every thing we do together
Jay – for taking command of “Robbie Burns Dinner”
Jeff – for your thoughtful film that got many heads nodding
Jaime – for your accapella singing that sent chills down spines
Don – for your enthusiasm and ideas
Bob – for the inspiration of the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums that gets
people on their feet
Cassandra and the others who aren't on this email (Brenda, Bill, Danny,)
Debbie and Dave – for leading our dragonboat volunteers
Patricia – for organizing our Ricepaper and ACWW volunteers
Lydia for being our photographer and making us look good
Floata Restaurant – for cooking up a fantastic meal – even if you did burst the casing on the haggis.

Lots of comments from the regulars….  “Best Ever”

CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski – said the first 10 minutes exceeded his
expectations, and kept doing so!  It will be a 4 minute piece, and we
will inform you….

Pictures and Videos coming soon!

Next Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Dinner in Vancouver will be….
January 22nd, Sunday – Chinese New Year Eve.
Floata Restaurant
Vancouver Chinatown

Cheers, Todd

Ticket Sales for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – now closed

Ticket Sales for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner is Closed

We have to close off sales because:

1) All seats are reserved, and we need to ensure that all available seats are accounted for.

2) The restaurant must prepare some foods ahead of time, and have the correct number of expected guests. 

3) Some dishes are specialty dishes and cannot be prepared at the last minute, especially our signature dishes such as haggis dim sum, or our deep-fried haggis won ton.

4) If somebody shows up at the door expecting a seat, and all the seats are taken – we cannot open a new table for 1 or 2 people. 

5) We cannot simply add another seat to a table of 10, food dishes are proportioned to 10 seats, and the 11th seat also creates crowding.

6) We need to now focus on the production of the event, such as decorations, sound production, music performances etc.  so that we will have a good show for everybody who has purchased tickets in advance.

For further questions – please call organizer Todd Wong.  778-846-7090

For tickets for next year – you can ask to join our email list

or better yet, subscribe to

or join the facebook group
Toddish McWong's annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year

50 pounds of Haggis – from the butcher to Chinatown

Where do you get your haggis from?


I have bought my haggis from Peter Black & Sons, at Park Royal in West Vancouver since 2000, with the exception of 2001, which I regretted. So every year in early January, I phone up Peter Black & Sons to put in my order – or they phone me to confirm. Or as was the case this year, they made up my usual order, then told me it was ready.  They are great people.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 001

Wild haggis “sleeping” in the cage.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 006
Peter Black looks over the big box of 60 small one pounders of haggis.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 015
40 wee haggi (plural) + 1 big 3 pounder, and a 2 pounder.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 012
How to cook a haggis. – Click on the picture.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 013

Frozen raw haggis, without the casing.  We take a bucket of haggis to the restaurant, and they use it to make the haggis won ton and the haggis pork dumplings.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 022
Deep-fried haggis won ton!  yum yum….  Now the finished product looks inviting… next step: dip them in sweet sauce!

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 021

Haggis pork dumpling (Su-mei), with turnip cake (lo-bak-goh) and spicy jelly fish.

CBC Radio One, “The Early Edition” gives out two tickets to Gung Haggis Ft Choy

Jenna Chow gave away 2 tickets on CBC Radio's “The Early Edition” as part of the Weekend Wrap

Jenna Chow is a co-host for the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  This will be her first time at the Scottish-Chinese fusion dinner that features Asian-Canadian literary arts and cultures alongside traditional Robbie Burns poetry, Scottish songs and dance… plus contemporary poetry!  Jenna is going to have a great time with our other co-hosts Tetsuro Shigematsu (former host of CBC's The Round-Up), Actor Patrick Gallagher (Margaret Gallagher's brother) and myself.  We all feature some kind of cross-cultural specialty. Tetsuro was born in London UK.  Patrick and Jenna both have Chinese ancestry as well as Caucasian, and I have developed a fondness for wearing kilts and reciting Burns poetry.

Jenna Chow

On Friday Morning – CBC Radio One… Jenna Chow is going through the hot ticket events for this coming weekend.
She lists:

Hard Core Logo: LIVE, at The Rickshaw Theatre until February 6th (part of PuSh International Performing Arts Festival).
Jim Byrnes and Babe Gurr are in-concert tonight and tomorrow night at Deep Cove Shaw Theatre
Floating, part of the PuSh Festival, is at the Revue Stage on Granville Island until February 5th.
This,an urban comedy about modern relationships in crisis, is on now until January 29th at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre.

and she gives away two tickets:

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year 2011 Dinner – Sunday, January 30th

Jenna writes on the website:

It's once again time for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner!  This
year, there's a HAPA theme running through the evening (HAPA is a
Hawaiian term used to described someone who's of mixed Asian or Pacific
Islander racial or ethnic heritage).  Hosting this year are Patrick
Gallagher (Coach Tanaka from Glee and Margaret's brother), me (I'm a
HAPA, yes), as well as Tetsuro Shigematsu and Toddish McWong.

It'll be an evening of food, entertainment (like singalongs, piping parades, etc.), and fun.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year 2011 Dinner is on Sunday, January 30th, 5PM, at Floata Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown – 400-180 Keefer Street.

Congratulations to the lucky winner!   We have your name on your tickets – they will be available at the reception table at the Floata Restaurant.  #400 – 180 Keefer St.

Last Day is Saturday 2pm to purchase tickets for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

2pm, Saturday, is the deadline for ticket sales
for Gung Haggis Dinner.

The Firehall Arts Centre Box Office will close off tickets for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner on: Saturday January 29th, at 2pm.
Contact Firehall Arts Centre:
phone 604.689.0926

online sales at

Seating is all reserved.  And we place people on seats closest to the table in order to when they bought their tickets.  It is a balance of  single seat purchases, clan tables of 10, + sponsor organization tables.

It's always exciting to have a table of single seat purchasers close to the front, as they are always excited to purchase their seats early.

We have already started the seating process.  Having purchased tables of 10 is the easiest, but we want to include couples, singles and small groups that still want to attend the dinner.  So now begins the process of adding groups of 4, 3, 5, 6, 2 to all fit around tables of 10.

Doors open at 5pm.
please use this time to purchase your drinks, say hi to your friends, and purchase raffle tickets.
Appetizers are served at 6pm
Pipe Parade starts at 6:05pm

Please remember that Floata Restaurant will provide free parking. 

Please see:

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

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 032

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:

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 018

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
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.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 023

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.

2010_January_RobbieBurnsDay 032

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.
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
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

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 037

5) Chinese Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
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.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 030

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

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 042

7)   Buddha feast with deep-fried tofu
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.

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 046

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
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! 
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).

2011_January_26_Haggis_Floata 047

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….

2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner will be fantastic!

The buzz is building for
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year Dinner

“Rap to the Haggis” – Video from 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

January 30th, Sunday
Floata Seafood Restaurant
#400- 180 East Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown

For Tickets
Contact Firehall Arts Centre:
phone 604.689.0926

$65 for adults
$55 for students
$45 for children 13 & under
(prices included ticket service charge)

Our co-hosts will be:
Jenna Chow – CBC Radio reporter
Patrick Gallagher – actor
Tetsuro Shigamatsu – writer, comedian

Jocelyn Pettit CD release essexboy2424362 views

Highland Wedding Song Joe McDonald Vancouver
1 min1 Oct 2009

Performers will be:
Jocelyn Pettit & Band
Joe McDonald – singer
Jaime None – singer
Brad Cran – Vancouver Poet Laureate
Jeff Chiba Stearns – film maker
Aidan and Quinn Huang – Highland Dancers
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums

Food will include:
deep-fried haggis won ton
traditional haggis served with Chinese vegetarian lettuce wrap
steamed wild sockeye salmon

Format will include:
Piping Parades through the audience
Address to the Haggis
lots of poetry
lots of food
cultural fusion twists everywhere

Interesting notes:
CNN is sending a reporter and camera
It's Vancouver's 125th Birthday on April 6 – also Tartan Day
Vancouver's first mayor was Malcolm Alexander Maclean. He was born in Tyree, Argyllshire
on Scotland’s west coast, in 1844. He arrived in Granville
in January of 1886, three months before it became Vancouver.

Here's a video from the 2009 dinner

8 min29 Jan 2009

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.


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


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.