I first met Paul Yee back in 1986. He was a very unassuming man
of quiet intensity. My older cousin Hayne had invited me to
become involved on a project celebrating 100 years of Chinese Canadian
history in Vancouver. It was to be the Chinese community's
contribution to the Vancouver centennial celebrations.
It was a
turning point in my life. I learned lots about Chinese Canadian
history, and it helped my own family history to come more alive for
me. There were mentions about my Great-great-grandfather's
involvement with the Chinese Methodist Church, Rev. Chan Yu Tan.
My cousin Joni Mar was mentioned as one of the first Chinese Canadian
television news reporters. And my Uncle Daniel Lee loaned his
Airforce uniform and medals for the exhibit.
I helped to paint some of the displays, bang nails, hang things up, and
I met some great people. Rah Mah was a graphic designer who went
on to found his own company, Leap Creative. Elizabeth Sheffrin
was a textile artist who became the event manager. Elizabeth
Johnson was a curator at the Museum of Anthropology. David Wong
was an architectural student who later founded his own company.
Joyce Lam was volunteer coordinator and later founded Vancouver Asian
During the exhibit I helped to provide information on the exhibit, and
give people tours. When nobody came through, I sat and read
Paul's books “Teach Me to Fly Skyfighter,” and “Curse of Third Uncle.”
Douglas McIntyre published Paul Yee's “Saltwater City.” I
remember attending the book launch at the Chinese Cultural Centre
boardroom. I have a picture of myself with Paul – my head is bald
due to the chemotherapy treatment I was going through at the time.
Over the years, I have attended many of Paul's readings and book
launches in Vancouver. He is an amazing presenter with a very
good speaking style. In September 2002, I was on the board of the
Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, and we presented Paul with a
Community Achievement award.
On May 17th, Paul Yee will be presenting a newly revised edition of
“Saltwater City” for the CBC Studio One Book Club – see information
CBC Radio One, The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Readers &
Writers Festival, The Vancouver Public Library, and explorASIAN are
pleased to present…
Paul Yee with Saltwater City: The Story of Vancouver’s Chinese Community
Wednesday, May 17, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
CBC Radio Studio One
700 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
celebrate the completely redesigned and revised edition of this
best-selling landmark book, first published in 1988, which told the
epic story of Vancouver's Chinese community and its extraordinary
growth from marginal to centre stage in a new world order. The new
edition includes the years 1987 to 2001, when Vancouver’s Chinese
population grew rapidly.
resonates with often painful first-person recollections and includes
200 photographs, most reproduced for the first time, to form a
chronological portrait of the community from its earliest beginnings to
the present. With the assimilation of its people into the mainstream of
Canadian life following World War II, Saltwater City, as early Chinese
immigrants called the community, was threatened, but changes in
attitude, government policy, and the opening of diplomatic relations
with China instead caused a renaissance. Now, Vancouver's Chinese
community enjoys considerable political and financial influence and has
matured beyond recognition into one of Canada's most successful ethnic
Paul Yee, a third-generation
Chinese-Canadian, was born in Saskatchewan, grew up in Vancouver’s
Chinatown, and worked for the Vancouver City Archives before moving to
Toronto in 1988. He has written several fiction, non-fiction, childrens
and young adult books. His latest books include Bamboo, Chinatowns in Canada, and Is This Screwed, Or What?.
CBC Studio One Book Club is an intimate gathering of ONLY 120 audience
members. It is hosted by Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio and John Burns of
the Georgia Straight, and is recorded for broadcast on North by
Northwest and other CBC Radio programs. Microphones are set up for
audience questions. We encourage you to join in, your participation in
the CBC Radio Studio One Book Club is an important part of the
broadcast. This is your chance to talk to Paul Yee about his books,
fiction and non-fiction, his work as an archivist, his history and more!
your chance to win two tickets to be part of this Book Club, tell us
(in 200 words or less) why you would like to be in the audience to meet
P.O. Box 4600
All winners will be notified by email. Each winner will receive two tickets. No tickets available at the door.