Wallace Chung collection at UBC: A national treasure about immigration to BC

The Empress of Asian brought many Chinese to BC.  Wallace  Chung painstakingly rebuilt a model of it.


The Vancouver Sun featured a April 16th story about the Chung Collection $5 million, 25,000 items and UBC = a collection with special meaning by Kevin Griffin.


This is significant because Dr. Wallace Chung has always held a life-long interest in the history of Chinese Canadians.  He accumulated and donated his 25,000 item collection donation to the University of British Columbia.  The feature piece is a beautiful large scale model
ship, the Empress of Asia, which Dr. Chung spent many years reconstructing.  

I have known Dr. Wallace Chung and his wife Dr. Madeline Chung for many many years.  They have been friends of my parents.  Dr. Madeline delivered me as a baby almost 48 years ago, this Sunday, May 11th.  At the opening day of the 1986 Saltwater City display, she excitedly told people that I was One of my boys!  Dr. Wallace was Chair of the Chinese Cultural Centre at the time.

A few years ago, I created programming for Asian Heritage Month at the Vancouver Public Library, and introduced Dr. Wallace as he gave a slide show on the history of Vancouver Chinatown.

They have both been great philanthropists to the City of Vancouver, giving generously not only to the U.B.C,, but also to the Maritime Museum and the Chinese Cultural Centre.



Here’s an excerpt from Vancouver Sun April 16:

The collection includes documents,
rare books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass,
ceramic ware and other artifacts relating to the Canadian Pacific
Railway, the Asian experience in North America, and B.C. history.

Wallace Chung said he hopes the collection helps educate young people about the country’s history.

“I hope it shows people what hardships
Chinese people went through before they reached the stage they’re at
today,” said Chung, a vascular surgeon and professor emeritus at UBC’s
faculty of medicine.

“It really tells us what it means to be
a Canadian. Even though we were badly treated initially, we now have
landed in a very fortunate position. That story is told in all the
artifacts and documents.”

As a child, Chung was obsessed with the
Empress of Asia for two reasons: it was the ship that brought his
mother to Canada from China, and a poster of the luxury ocean liner
hung in his father’s tailor shop in Victoria.


Here’s a link to a sampling of photos from the collection, including one of Mr and Mrs Chung, and the Empress of Asia.

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