Monthly Archives: August 2009

2 more concerts of Enchanted evenings at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens – featuring Silk Road and Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble

The final 3 Enchanted Evenings concerts at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens all feature musicians that have performed at past Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners.

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Silk Road duo Qiu Xia and Andrew performed last year with African dancer Jackie Esombe and percussionist Pepe Danza – photo T. Wong

Last week celtic ensemble Blackthorn performed August 21.  This Friday Aug. 28, Erhu specialist Ji-Rong Huang artistic director of Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble takes stage.  On Sept 4, Silk Road Music performs as a quartet, led by Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault.

Qiu Xia and Andre have performed many times at Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners since 2004.  Silk Road Music Ensemble was featured in the 2004 CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”.

Blackthorn and Ji-Rong both came to the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  Blackthorn has an incredible repertoire of Celtic songs that they kept pulling out of their hats.  Ji-Rong and I performed 2 songs on accordion and erhu – Galloping Horse and Hungarian Dance No. 5 – which he also plays solo.

Summer Concert Series

Doors open at 7:00pm, and all shows begin at 7:30pm

Tickets $18 for non-members,

$15 for Garden Society Members



A rich showcase of traditional Chinese instruments



SILK ROAD- September 4

World Music with a Chinese flair



Tickets and info, contact 604.662.3207 ext. 208 or


reservations are recommended

Celtic band Blackthorn playing Enchanted Evenings concert in Vancouver's Chinese Classical Garden

This will be tres cool!   My favorite Celtic band in my favorite Classical Chinese garden!

Back in 2003, we filmed the CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.  It was the very first music video ever filmed at the garden, and it featured The Paper Boys with a Chinese flautist Jing Min Pan.

Blackthorn is a wonder celtic music ensemble led by Michael Viens on guitar, Michelle Carlisle on flute, Rosy Carver on fiddle and Tim Reading on bass and bodran.  Blackthorn was featured at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, and brought a real lively presence to the dinner event.

I spoke with Michelle in the first week of August, and she says that Blackthorn is really looking forward to performing at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens.  She was even more interested, when I told her that the gardens was designed by my architect cousin Joe Wai.

The Enchanted Gardens Music series often features different multicultural music ensembles.  It was initially started by my friends Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault of Silk Road Music.  They always create something different for their annual concert.

Enchanted Evening Concert Series
Friday, Aug 21
Doors: 7pm, Show: 7:30pm
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, 578 Carrall Street, Vancouver, BC
Ticket Prices: $18.00 (non Garden members) and $15.00 for members.
Call 604-662-3207 ext 208 for tickets or email
We recommend pre-purchasing your tickets as these popular concerts are often sell-outs!
Also available at the door.

Musical Expressions Summer Concert Series
Saturday, Aug 22
6:30pm,  Britannia Heritage Shipyard, 5180 Westwater, Steveston BC

Musical Expressions presents
this 2009 Concert Season at Britannia features the artistry of
prominent local groups in a magnificent setting. Imagine a Fraser River
sunset as a backdrop to a concert!

Tickets: $20 including appetizers, on sale at the venue, or by calling 604-718-8050.

Simon Fraser University Pipe Band wins Worlds

Greetings, some results from the World Piping Championships, Glasgow,
Scotland, August 15th. Regards, the other Ron


SFU repeats as the top Pipe Band for the sixth time. To see the Band in competition,
go to


Grade 1

1st Simon
Fraser University (Canada)

 Field Marshal Montgomery (Northern Ireland)

3rd  St.
Laurence O'Toole (Ireland)

Strathclyde Police (Scotland).

5th House of
Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead (Scotland)

6th Boghall
& Bathgate (Scotland)


Drumming: Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Grade 1
: 1st
 Simon Fraser University (Canada)

 Drumming: House of
Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead (Scotland)

Judges: I
Wood, T. Sloane (piping); G. Craig (drumming); Joe Noble (ensemble)

Grade 1 MSR: 1st Simon
Fraser University (Canada)

Drumming: 1st Simon
Fraser University (Canada)

Malcolm MacKenzie, John Moles (piping); A. Steele (drumming); David Clark

 Grade 2

1st Inveraray
and District

2nd Ravara

3rd Mauchline
and District

4th Dumfries

5th Grampian

6th New Westminster Police

Other news:

1. Triumph Street Pipe Band
qualified for the Grade 1 final but didn’t make the prize list.

2. Robert Malcolm Juveniles
were 4th in their competition.

All in all, a very good day
for B.C. Bands.

Newly elected board members for The Land Conservancy of BC includes Todd Wong

Newly elected board members for The Land Conservancy of BC
includes Todd Wong

2009_Aug_TLC 052 by you.

9 elected TLC board members + 2 non-elected candidates + Bill Turner = a vow to all work together for the best interests of TLC. David Merner, Alistair Craighead, Cheryl Bruce, Carol Pickup, Elspeth McVeigh, Briony Penn, Charley Beresford, Bill Turner (executive director), Frances Pugh, Gary Holman, Todd Wong, Ken Millard.  Unavailable elected board members Barry Glickman, Magnus Bein

TLC officially announced election results at around 11am Saturday morning August 8th

The entire Save TLC slate was elected including Todd Wong, also president of Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, which oversees programming for Historic Joy Kogawa House, owned by TLC

Click here for TLC Website Election Results

was an intense last 24 hours, as I took the 4pm ferry to Victoria with
longtime TLC supporter and board candidate Elspeth McVeigh.  We met
other board candidates and Save TLC Committee members including Bill Turner
for an 8pm  meeting.

Results had been expected to be announced to candidates at the end of voting at 5pm, but were not announced until after 9pm.

There is overwhelming a sigh of relief from the majority of TLC members, staff and volunteers, as many TLC projects and donations have been on hold since March, when TLC executive director Bill Turner was released from his duties by the TLC Board.

Today at a board meeting, which included an open forum, Bill Turner was re-affirmed as Executive Director.

Alastair Craighead is Chair
Briony Penn is Vice-Chair
Elspeth McVeigh is Treasurer
David Merner is Secretary

started the day visiting TLC property Ross Bay Villa at 10am, with
candidates Elspeth and David.  It's a wonderful heritage house with a
lovely garden.  We met with many of the volunteers who do restoration and gardending work.  They were very appreciative that we were board candidates, and that I was with the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society.

We met at Abkhazi Gardens at 11am,  for a tour and an all-candidates photo op.  It's an incredible heritage garden and house created by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, shortly after they settled in Victoria in 1946.

met at St. Stephens Church and Community Centre in North Saanich for
the 12:30pm board meeting, open forum, followed by a reception.  It was a wonderful reception where many TLC members were able to speak with the newly elected members of the TLC board. 
Elspeth and I left at 4pm to catch the 5pm ferry home.

I received positive response, whenever I mentioned Kogawa House.

August Kilts Night enhanced by World Police & Fire Games

Kilts Night is always fun…  We meet new lovers of kilts – some wearing kilts, some are admirers.

2009_Aug_KiltsNight 004

Raphael, Todd and Stuart + two members from Spanish team for World Police and Fire Games.

Every 1st Thursday of each month we meet at Doolin's Irish Pub.  Why? If you wear a kilt, you receive a free pint of Guinness.

Kilts Night is more than just kilts or Scottish culture.  It's about cultural diversity enjoying cultural diversity.  We have Asians in kilts.  We have surprised cottish tourists not wearing kilts.  On Thursday August 7th, we met members from the Spanish team for the World Police and Fire Games.  The tall blonde woman is competing in pentathalon.  They loved that Vancouver has a beach named “Spanish Banks” and that many places in Vancouver were named by Spanish explorer Juan de Fuca.

2009_Aug_KiltsNight 005

It was Mark Cameron's 40th birthday pub crawl. His kilt met members of the Spanish team for the World Police & Fire Games

2009_Aug_KiltsNight 008 

Mark and his buddies created a “Troller to the Raven Pub Crawl” immortalized in the Spirit of the West Song.  We gave them a warm Kilts Night welcome from members of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.

2009_Aug_KiltsNight 003 Louis' first Kilts Night… and we put a kilt on him. Only one year ago, Louis was living in Paris with no kilts night!

Kilts Night August 2009

Kilts Night August 2009

Vancouver vs San Diego? vs Logan Lake?

2009_May 164 by you. Vancouver is called one of the “most livable cities” – kite flyers, sailboaters enjoy English Bay from Spanish Banks – photo Todd Wong

Vancouver vs San Diego? vs Logan Lake?
Vancouverism is an architectural concept for which diversity of use, diversity of space and diversity of people is included.

VANCOUVERISM is a wikipedia entry… and a traveling architectural exhibition to Paris and London.

SAN DIEGOISM is non-existent.

And where the heck is Logan Lake?

Vancouverism is also a touring exhibition to London and Paris. see:

Last weekend in Vernon, when somebody from Logan Lake found out I was from Vancouver, they complained about how “unfriendly” Vancouver was – especially about parking.  I had to ask where Logan was located.  Answer: between Kamloops, Merritt and Cache Creek. It is tiny with a population of only 2,100 people.  The Metro Vancouver area has a population of 2,116,581.  This person complained that mass transit didn't help him when he visited Vancouver, and that there is no freeway.

I pointed out that you cannot apply rural values and issues on a large city and expect similar results. Vancouverites fought against a freeway through Chinatown and Strathcona neighborhoods.  I told him that ubanist Jane Jacobs moved from the U.S.A. to Toronto because she declared it “more livable,” and today Jacob's son Ned Jacobs lives in Vancouver's Little Mountain neighborhood for it's livability where he leads an annual Jane's Walk.

Todays' Vancouver Sun newspapers reported on a San Diego news blogger 

San Diego blogger Arthur Saim compares Vancouver to San Diego, and says that Vancouver is “depressing” for him when he thinks  about the potentials for San Diego. Many comments on the blog have focussed on the social problems of Vancouver

See original article:

I think the key to Vancouver is its inclusion of diversity.  Whether it is the architectural concept of Vancouverism incorporating mixed use development, of community and industrial and business needs, – or the cultural diversity of its population.  Vancouver is many things to many people.  This is both it's strength and weakness.

Here are some links and quotes about Vancouverism:

“Vancouverism is characterized by tall, but widely separated,
slender towers interspersed with low-rise buildings, public spaces,
small parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and facades to
minimize the impact of a high density population.”
-The New York Times, December 28, 2005

The word first entered the argot of American architects and city
planners over the past decade, who began speaking of “Vancouverizing”
their under-populated, un-loved urban cores, seeking inspiration from
Canada’s Pacific portal’s re-development successes. Our city has become
first a verb, and now, an ideology promoting an urbanism of density and
public amenity. Vancouverism at its best brings together a deep respect
for the natural environment with high concentrations of residents.
Within condominium residential towers downtown and courtyard and
boulevard-edging mid-rise buildings elsewhere in the city,
Vancouverites are learning to live tightly together; a healthy,
engaging – even thrilling place.

Not Asia, not Europe, not even North America, but a new kind of city
living with elements from all of these – a hybrid that now demands to
be taken on its own terms. In the language of city-building,
“Vancouverism” is fast replacing “Manhattanism” as the maximum power
setting for shaping the humane mixed-use city, important ideas for a
new era of scarce energy and diminished natural resources.


“Vancouverism is evolving a second and more interesting sense: that
of the latent character, the subjective quirks of urban identity hidden
behind these shiny façades. Call it the theory, or the legacy, or the
idea of Vancouver, but increasingly our writers are producing books
that capture this precious moment of self-knowledge, as this
good-looking adolescent of a city enters a more complicated young

Meredith Quartermain’s new collection of poetry, Vancouver Walking,
deals with this latter sense of Vancouverism, her word-images evoking
our hidden histories and the textures of our streets, especially on the
East Side.

Lance Berelowitz’s Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination
deals with the bricks and mortar and geographies of this town, a
rah-rah appreciation of our downtown and our more officially sanctioned
westerly zones.

Lance Berelowitz is a consultant to the urban development industry
who came to Vancouver from his native South Africa in 1985, after a
decade studying architecture and working in Europe… The first half of Dream
City, in particular has a “Gee whiz, aren’t we bloody marvelous” tone,
no doubt born of these prior commissions. “Vancouver is the poster
child of urbanism in North America” is his opening sentence, and too
much of the book varnishes over that poster with multiple coats of

Winetasting in the Southern Okanagan: Summerland and Naramata Bench

Wine tasting and exploring in Summerland and Naramata regions of Southern Okanagan

– Part One

2009_Aug_Kalamalka 085 Todd & Deb taste the delicious fruit wines of Elephant Island Orchard Winery.

I am glad that my girlfriend Deb enjoys wine tasting, and trying out the many different Okanagan wines of BC.  On BC Day, August 3rd Monday, we travelled with friends to the Summerhill and Naramata Bench growing areas.  Only 2 hours south of Vernon, where Deb's parents live, the area is dryer and more sun drenched.  The hills are softer and less steep than Kalamalka Lake's Predator Ridge and Kalamalka Park.

It probably started with our official first date when I brought over a bottle of Summerhill Cipes Brut sparkling wine to help celebrate her new job.  3 months later we explored the Kelowna area wineries of Mission Hill, Quail's Gate, Mt. Boucherie, and Summerhill Pyramid winery.  We also drove up to to Silver Star ski resort to try out the 2nd annual Okanagan Summer Wine Festival. 

Last year, we took our friends Craig and Zsuzsanna to Summerhill Pyramid winery, and Sumac Ridge Estates.  This time we felt it we wanted to explore farther south to Summerland and Naramata Bench – where Deb hadn't been in 20 years, despite being raised in the North Okanagan.

We visited Thornhaven, Dirty Laundry and Sleeping Giant fruit winery in Summerhill, part of the “Bottleneck Drive” group of local wineries to promote the growing wine business on the west side of Okanagan Lake.  Then we visited the Naramatat Bench, home to BC's largest concentration of wineries, but only had enough time to visit Elephant Island Orchard Winery and Soaring Eagle Estates – before they closed at 6pm.

Grapes at Soaring Eagle Estates.

Thornhaven Estates was the first winery we checked in at.  After the 2 hour long drive from Vernon, we ate our sandwiches in the car.  But we could have relaxed and eaten on the lovely and inviting adobe styled outdoor patio at Thornhaven.  It looks exotic in the “Great White North” of Canada – but the Sonoran desert plateau of the American Southwest actually extends all the way into Canada near Oosooyoos.

More pictures on Toddish McWong's flickr link:

2009 July Winetasting

2009 July Winetasting

Blackthorn celtic music band at Fort Langley for BC Day!

Blackthorn is playing at Historic Fort Langley.

Blackthorn is comprised of some of my favorite musicians: Michael  on guitar/vocals, Michelle on flute/pennywhistle/vocals, Tim on bass/bodrana and Rosie on fiddle/vocals.  Blackthorn was our featured band at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner.

Historic Fort Langley is the birthplace of BC, where Gov. James Douglas signed the proclamation almost 150 years and 9 months ago.

Aug 03
6:30pm Brigade Days
Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada, BC

Days is held every year over the BC Day long weekend in August.
Historically, Brigade was when the fur trappers came down from their
trap lines to the fort, to trade, some took their annual baths and
looked for a new spouse, and in general caught up with friends they
hadn't seen since the year before.

Blackthorn will be bathed and on stage Monday evening.


Todd in Vernon, at Kalamalka Lake

Kalamalka Lake is one of the beautiful and accessible vacation spots in BC's Okanagan. 

Todd Wong paddles an outrigger canoe on Kalamalka Lake.  Todd's friend Craig brought the outrigger canoe up for the weekend.  It is 20 feet long and weighs only 22 pounds. 

Kalamalka Lake Provincical Park.

After being here for last weekend's Greater Vernon Dragon Boat race, with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, I returned to spend time with my girlfriend Deb and her parents at their lakeside home.  I came up on Thursday night after work.  Construction on Hwy 97 just after the Coquihalla Connection and on the new William Bennet Bridge connecting West Bank to Kelowna, stretched the usual 5 hour trip to 6 hours.

Life is relaxing here, as we spend time swimming, canoeing and kayaking in the lake.  Sometimes we take the border collies out for walks in the park.

But the Terrace Mountain fire is raging again.  Yesterday the fire jumped its fireguards and 1500 people were put on alert.  Ash and smoke filled the sky.  The sun turned an eerie orange through the hazy smoke, as it glistened on the water.  Today, the evacuation order has expanded to affect 2500 people in the Fintry area.  We are keeping our fingers crossed a fire doesn' happen in the Kalamalka Lake Park, where many people are vacationing and enjoying the recreational activities of swimming, picnics, boating and cliff jumping.

IMG_3388 by you. The sun shines orange through the smoke from the Terrace Mountain fire, and reflects on Kalamalka Lake. – photo Todd Wong

On Friday, I paddled the solo outrigger canoe that my friend Craig Brown brought up for the weekend.  It is 20 feet long, and weighs only 22 pounds.  It is a beautiful boat, and moves easily through the water.  Craig complimented me on my balance and my paddling.  I never hulied (tipped over) by accident.  I practiced tipping over on purpose, as Craig coached me on flipping the boat back over, and climbing back on.  When speeding motor boats went by, I paddled over to crash through their wake. 

“You're surfing now!” Craig called at me, as I rode the waves back to the shore.

Todd paddles solo outrigger! – photo Craig Brown.

Friday night we drove into town to find the airconditioned movie theatre.  We watched “The Ugly Truth” starring Katherine Heigl  It was pretty funny – more raunchy than the classic “When Harry Met Sally” – but surprisingly no nudity!

Saturday morning, Deb and I kayaked towards Kal Beach, along the many lake front homes.  We saw some teenagers rise sleepily from the dock where they had spent the night.  We talked with some swimmers who were friends of Deb's parents.  Then we paddled back and over to Jade and Juniper Bay.

Saturday night, Craig and I missed the big excitement.  After dinner we headed over to Alexander's Beach Pub.  While we we gone, a rattle snake was discovered in the garden.  The weather is so hot and dry, it would appear that the rattlesnakes are looking for water.  A rattle snake hadn't been seen at the Martin residence in 20 years.

Sunday morning,  Deb and I canoed around Rattle Snake Point, over to Cosens Bay.  Around the corner, we saw some teens jumping off cliffs.  We saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree, and a Kingfisher flying from one tree to the next. 

We saw 5 swimmers in wet suits, who were training for triathalons.  We had a short conversation about the benefitis of swimming and paddling in Kalamalka Lake.  They admitted they wouldn't decline a beer, even though it wouldn't be beneficial to their training.

We plan to leave tomorrow on Monday.  Possible activities will be another early morning paddle, followed by wine tastings in Penticton/Naramata area.