I visited radio host Sheryl MacKay in her North By Northwest
studio early on Sunday morning. Upon my arrival, Sheryl greeted
me, and I was amazed to see that she was the only person on the
floor. No production assistants. Nobody. Sheryl does
it all. She is an amazing woman.
“You brought Show-and-tell!” she exclaimed when
she saw the large package I was carrying. I had brought archival
pictures of my family history, as I was being interviewed out my
upcoming presentation for the January 22 A Taste of History Fair,
organized by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC. This event will be held from 10am to 4:30pm and will be at the Vancouver Museum on Chestnut Street.
My Great Great Grandfather
Rev. Chan Yu Tan and Mrs. Chan Yu Tan (seated), second from the right
is my Great Grandmother Kate Chan Lee(standing). On the far right
is her husband Ernest Lee, my Great Grandfather.
I opened up the package and spread the poster cards out
along the floors and walls of the CBC radio studio, explaining which
one was my Great great grandfather, the Rev. Chan Yu
Tan. His elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai had arrived in 1888 at
the request of the Methodist Church of Canada to help found the Chinese
Methodist Church in Vancouver. My great great
grandfather had followed his brother from Hong Kong to Canada in
1896, their two missionary sisters Phoebe and Naomi came later.
Here was a picture of Grand uncle Luke
who became an actor in Hollywood. Here was my mother's cousin
Rhonda Larrabee who became First Nations Chief of the Qayqayt (New
Westminster) Band with her grand children who are now only 1/8
Chinese. Here is my grandmother's cousin Carol who married the
cousin of just former Washington State Governor Gary Locke. Here
is my grandmother's eldest brother who married the aunt of Canada's
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. Not all descendents of Rev.
Chan Yu Tan – but related through marriages to the family.
We had a great chat – it was warm, just like
Sheryl's voice – warm, velvety and reassuring. Perfect for Sunday
morning radio. The time passed quickly, and before the show
ended, Sheryl asked me to put on my other hat and tell the radio
audience about Gung Haggis Fat Choy events – the poetry reading with
Fred Wah, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner on January 30th. I
shall try to make a transcription of the show in the days to come.