Monthly Archives: December 2004

Kilts Night in Vancouver! January 1st with Bear Kilts at the “Trap & Gill”

Kilts Night is a new Vancouver Tradition organized by Terry “Bear” Varga, of Bear Kilts – the official Kilt sponsor of Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

We meet around 7pm on the 1st Saturday of each month, at the Atlantic Trap & Gill, at the corners of Davie and Seymour Streets in Vancouver.  It's lots of fun – good food, good beer.  Live entertainment later in the evening.

January 1st, 2005, also marks the 2nd anniversary of Bear Kilts.  You can bet I will be wearing my new Maple Leaf tartan that I debuted December 7th, 2004, on CBC TV's the National.


Mia Stainsby lists Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event in Vancouver Sun article: Best New Restaurants 2004

Vancouver food critic Mia Stainsby, listed Gung Haggis Fat Choy in her Cover story article for today's Vancouver Sun's “Queue” Arts & Entertainment summary.

In an article titled Best new restaurants 2004: Rising culinary stars showcase Vancouver's unique blend of multicultural cuisines, Mia writes: 

“Food is like edible culture.  Take a look at the best
restaurants that opened this year.  They tell us we're no longer a
city of immigrants with a disconnect between mainstream and ethnic

“Vancouver restaurants today, like the city itself, are more a
melting pot than a mosaic of many cultures.  International
cuisines have mixed and merged into a seamless whole, and like the
stitching on a baseball, there's no beginning or end to it. 
What's been happening is quite amazing and adds cosmopolitan flair to
the city.

“Ethnic restaurants are not only chameleons in the mainstream,
they're now at the forefront of ideas and trends, blurring the lines
forever, particularly Asian ones…  So-called western-style menus
are woven through and through with Asian notes and riffs.  Blended
cuisines are often referred to as 'fusion,' but it's gone beyond
self-conscious borrowings from ethnic cuisines.  It's a cuisine of
its own – Vancouver cuisine.”

Stainsby goes on to write: “And look at the success of the annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrations, the food-centred fusion of Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Day.  Haggis wun tun
symbolizes this eccentric culinary union.  Only in
Vancouver.  The main event will be dinner at Floata restaurant on
January 30 and 700 party-goers are expected
. (See”

Stainsby mentions us after introducing Shiru Bay / Chopstick Cafe's natto ice cream (a sticky mix of fermented soy beans and ice cream), and Zakkushi Chacoal Grill's ome bushi sour cocktail (Japanese vodka, soda and crushed sour plum.)

Wow – we are in great company, and we are not even a
resturant!  We even got mentioned before Clove restaurant's butter
chicken and kafta balls, Zen Fine Chinese Cuisine, Also Lounge and

see Mia Stainsby's December 21, 2004 article about Gung Haggis Fat Choy titled Have a taste of 2004.

First Night Vancouver venue is changed for Gung Haggis Fat Choy

2005 First Night Vancouver venue is changed for Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Gung Haggis Fat Choy will now appear at Library Square, Lower Level, in the combined Peter Kaye and Alma van Dusen rooms.  This room is located in the Library Square Promenade beside the Moat Gallery.  Just take the stairs to the Lower Level and turn left.

This means that we will be indoors instead of outdoors in a heated tent.  Much better for audience and performers.

Our shows will be about 30 to 40 minutes long each and will be at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm.  Get there early to ensure a good seat.

Performing with me will be Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault from Silk Road Music, Karen Wong and Zhongxi Yu from Dragon River Shadow Puppet Theatre, David McIntosh from Battery Opera and contemporary singer LaLa, who was featured in the CBC “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” musical variety TV special earlier this year.

For tickets check the First Night Vancouver website or pick up advance tickets at Safeway for $10.  Otherwise $15 on site.

Valerie Sing Turner reading “Versus” on CBC Radio One's “The Round Up” & “Between the Covers”

My friend Valerie Sing Turner is an actor.  Earlier this year she appeared in the Denise Chong theatrical premier for The Concubine's Daughter.  In 2003, she produced and starred in The Malaysian Hotel.  Valerie is an incredible woman, executive director for Visceral Visions, and board member for Touchstone Theatre, Canadian Actor's Equity and other organizations. 

  Valerie Sing Turner wrote:

…you'll hear yours truly on CBC Radio One! (690AM Vancouver/Victoria and 99.1FM Toronto)

I'm reading a 15-minute short story entitled “Versus”, which airs Thursday, December 30 at 2:30pm on The Round-Up, and again that evening at 10:40pm on Between the Covers. It's a lovely little story from the point of view of a 13-year-old Canadian Eurasian girl as she struggles to deal with her divided senses of loyalty and fairness when her father marries a woman from China.

Hope you had/are having a lovely Christmas holiday!

xo, Valerie


For people interested in find the story “Versus.” It is from the anthology Strike the Wok, stories by contemporary Chinese Canadian writers.  It is co-edited by my friend Jim Wong-Chu and Lien Chao.

Scottish Hogmanay and Chinese New Year collide for First Night Vancouver – courtesy of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

– for immediate release –

Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrates Scottish Hogmanay and Chinese New Year for First Night Vancouver

December 28, 2004

Vancouver BC

Gung Haggis Fat ChoyÔ is pleased to present three shows for First Night Vancouver, December 31st,
2004. This unique and wacky collision and collusion of Robbie Burns Day
and Chinese New Year, created by Todd Wong, will feature the global
opposite and yet culturally similar elements of Scottish Hogmanay and
Chinese New Year. Advanced buttons are $10 each. Family packs of 4
buttons for $35. $15 each at the door.

The shows take place
at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm at the Fun Too! Venue, located inside Library
Square on the Lower Level.  We will be in the combined Peter Kaye
and Alma Van Dusen rooms.  First Night Vancouver marks the first
time the culturally tongue-in-cheek elements of the ever popular Gung
Haggis Fat Choy
Ô dinner phenomenon have been especially re-created for a festival event.

Expect a Chinese bagpiper! Expect great cultural fusion music between East and West.

Sing along to “Scotland the Brave,”
and Burns’ perennial favorite, “Auld Lang Syne.” Enjoy Chinese
“something-or-other.”Expect East and West to collide for “My Bonnie Chow Mein Lies Over the Ocean,” and “When Irish Asian Eyes Are Smiling,” plus many more suprises!

Expect the Unexpected!

Joining host “Toddish McWong” are Silk Road Music’s Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault, Dragon River Shadow Puppet Theatre’s Karen Wong and Zhongxi Yu, plus special guests Battery Opera’s David McIntosh, and East-West hip hop singer LaLa.

January 17th, 2005.

Catch the Gung Haggis Fat ChoyÔ World Poetry Night
at the Vancouver Public Library Featuring Governor General’s Award for
Poetry winner Fred Wah, and hosted by Todd Wong, Ariadne Sawyer,
Alejandro Mujica Olea. This event is free and open to the public.

January 30th, 2005

Catch the infamous Gung Haggis Fat Choy:
Toddish McWong’s Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner. Special guest
hosts and performers include Shelagh Rogers, Tom Chin, Brave Waves,
Fred Wah and many others. This is the dinner that inspired the Leo
Award nominated CBC television special Gung Haggis Fat Choy.
Tickets now available at Firehall Arts Centre 604-689-0926. Fundraiser
for Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop, Rice Paper Magazine and Gung
Haggis dragon boat team.

For more information contact

Todd Wong

Phone: 604-987-7124


Christmas Eve morning with Shelagh Rogers and Chor Leoni for CBC Radio's “Sounds Like Canada”

Christmas Eve morning with Shelagh Rogers and Chor Leoni for CBC Radio's “Sounds Like Canada”

It was a special invitation to attend an intimate concert by Chor Leoni with Shelagh Rogers for CBC Radio's “Sounds Like Canada.”
CBC producer Cathy Hunt telephoned me a few days ago to invite me
saying it was for “special friends.”  How could I refuse? 
Well… the 6am start time on Christmas Eve morning was a major
deterent, as many friends I invited to join me passed on this rare
opportunity to have their hand claps heard across the nation.

Diane Loomer with Chor Leoni wearing their special Choir Hockey Jerseys – photo by Todd Wong

Chor Leoni is conducted and was co-founded by Diane Loomer,
who also conducts the Electra Women's Chorus.  Many of the solos
were handled by Steve Maddock, whom I recognized from when he would
perform on with Julie Blue for Celebration of Life Centre
Sunday morning services.  His wife Serie also performed a
beautiful solo of Silent Night in the original German, with the

Diane Loomer leading the audience in carol singing – photo by Todd Wong

The morning truly lived up to to the theme of “Grace” – chosen by
Shelagh Rogers, as she wove in the unique and sometimes inspiring
stories of some of the members of Chor Leoni.  For instance, a
story about a former Chor Leoni member, now a doctor helping to
heal a Haida elder by singing a song in Haida.  This led into
a rendition of Huron Carol.  During a break, Shelagh
commented  that time was just flying by, and that it always does
when things are going so well.

There was a short chat with a choir member who sailed around
the world spending Christmas in the middle of the Indian Ocean, which
led into Silent Night.  And there was a chat with the two choir
members who are Lutheran ministers, which led into Amazing Grace. 
And there was a particularly moving moment when Chor Leoni
performed their own version of the Leon Dubinsky song Rise Again, made popular by the Rankin Family, that was especially spiritual, afterwhich Shelagh reached for a kleenex and wiped tears from her eyes.

 Heather and Michelle singing along to O Holy Night – photo by Todd Wong

Joining me in attending the rare chance to attend a
live-to-broadcast session of “Sounds Like Canada” were Michelle Siu and
Heather from Rice Paper, published by Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop
(I'm a vice-president).  Michelle had just the night before been
working hard on the latest copy of Rice Paper Magazine trying her best
to ensure that an advertisment for Gung Haggis Fat Choy was included,
while at the same time, I was working hard with graphic designer Jamie Griffiths to finalize the 2005 GHFC poster.

 Me and Shelagh Rogers “Full of Grace”- photo by Heather

During one of the breaks, Shelagh Rogers introduced me to the
audience and choir.  “And we have Todd Wong with us this morning,
he is the creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a unique combination of
Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year Dinner that has grown into
something quite special, but you know that don't you Todd?” as I nodded
back to her.

“And Shelagh Rogers will be co-hosting with me, and that is going to
be real special,” I said after I answered that the dinner would be on
January 30th.  “And here she is, already wearing a Chinese top,” a
lovely burgundy long sleeved Chinese style top knot-style buttons, with
graceful black skirt. 

“And YOU will be wearing a KILT!” laughed Shelagh!

Ó 2004 Todd Wong

2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy poster – designed by Jamie Griffiths

Here is the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy – final copy.  Designed by Jamie Griffiths.  Jamie is an incredible interactive multi-media artist.  She dances, she paints, she does computer graphic design, she conceptualizes far ahead of the curve.  For more of Jamie's work, check out

Gung Haggis Fat Choy prices are:

Early bird until January 3: $50 adults, $45 students, $35 children 12 and under.  After January 3: $60 adults, $55 students, $45 children 12 and under.

My Great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan was part of “Three Early Chinese Canadian Pioneer Familes” exhibit

My Great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan was part of “Three Early Chinese Canadian Pioneer Familes” exhibit

My Great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan came to Canada in 1896, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai from Hong Kong.  They were graduates of the Wesleyan Mission.  My family has now been in Canada for 7 generations – all in Vancouver BC.  I am part of the 5th generation of the Chan family descendants.

Rev. Yu-Tan Chan and Mrs. Chan seated.  His daughter ,my great great grandmother Kate Lee and her Husband Ernest Lee (standing 2nd from right and 1st right.)

New Westminister, British Columbia, circa 1920Courtesy of the Dora Yip Collection

In 2002, The Chan family was part of a history project for the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives in Vancouver BC, titled “Three Pioneer Chinese Families.”  Here is a link to the original Vancouver Sun article by John Mackie.

Rev Chan Yu Tan and Rev Chan Sing Kai were pioneer missionaries to Canada, arriving in 1896 and 1990. They and their sisters Naomi and Phoebe (also known as Ng Ku or “The Bible Lady”) also helped to build the Chinese Methodist Church in Vancouver, that later became the Chinese United Church. These early churches were the first organizations to teach Chinese immigrants language lessons in English.

One of Rev. Chan Yu Tan's sons, Luke Chan, went to Hollywood and acted in films, where he starred in several movies, including The Secrets of Wu Sin, The Mysterious Mr. Wong and Singapore.

Grandsons Victor Wong, and brothers Daniel, Leonard and Howard all served in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II. Daniel has received awards for Appreciation, Service and Merit, for his work with Pacific Unit 280 veterans.

Great-granddaughter Rhonda Larrabee was the subject of the National Film Board documentary Tribe of One, as she singlehandedly revived the Qayqayt (New Westminster) First Nations Band of her mother's heritage.

Great-great- granddaughter Joni Mar was a Miss Canada runner-up and was one of the first Asian-Canadian television news reporters when she worked for CBC TV.

I just thought I would share this with you, as I ready materials for the 2005 Research Fair, organized by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C., January 22, 2005, 10:30am to 4:00pm at Vancouver Museum.

Here's another link with a picture of Rev. Yu-Tan Chan on a page titled Coming to Gum San.

Karen Cho's film “In the Shadow of Gold Mountain” television premier on CBC's Newsworld: Jan 11, 2005

Television Premiere: In the Shadow of Gold Mountain

Don't miss this show!

The National Film Board's In the Shadow of Gold Mountain will have
its television premiere on CBC Newsworld's Rough Cuts on Tuesday, Jan.
11 at 10 pm ET/PT, with a repeat broadcast on Friday, Jan. 14 at 10 pm

the Shadow of Gold Mountain (a film by Karen Cho) uncovers stories from
the last living survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act,
which lasted from 1885 until 1947. These personal accounts of
extraordinary Chinese-Canadians who survived the era are stories of
unwavering personal strength, of families torn apart and
of a community's struggle for civil rights and redress.

Filmaker Karen Cho is a very thoughtful young filmaker who
captures the stories behind the story of the racist head tax that was
only applied to immigrants of Chinese descent – no matter which country
they came from.

Read both my short review of In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, and my meeting with Karen Cho.

This film features interviews with Vancouver locals Roy Mah and
Gim Wong – both of whom served in the Canadian military, when they were
not even allowed to vote in their own country of birth.  I know
both men personally, and they are both very decent and gracious men,
who strongly believe in their convictions.

Roy is the founder of Chinatown News, the first and longest
running English language news magazine for the Chinese Canadian
community, and a recipient of the Order of BC, and Queen's Jubilee
Medal. This past summer at the age of 86, Gim Wong rode his
motorcycle to the site of Last Spike, in Craigelachie, BC, to draw
attention to the Canadian Government's lack of ability to respond to
repeated requests for apologies and reparations for the Chinese
Exclusion Act and Head Tax.

Read the NFB press release about the television premiere for In the Shadow of Gold Mountain.

Also check out the the network television premiere of Tribe
of One, a film about my cousin Rhonda Larrabee, who grew up half
Chinese and half First Nations.  It airs on Feb 6,
2005  APTN as part of a 13 part
Aboriginal Showcase of NFB films.