Monthly Archives: August 2010

New Chinese-Canadian History website launched in Toronto

New Chinese Canadian History website launched in Toronto.

Here's a message from my contact Brad Lee

I'd like
to invite you to take a look at our website, The Ties That Bind:
Building the CPR, Building a Place in Canada,, which was launched on
The url is:;
received some very good press, listed below. The Vancouver Sun was
particularly good.

Best, Brad–online-exhibit-recounts-history-of-chinese-canadian-railway-workers

Chinatown Canada tv documentary on OMNI tonight at 8pm

Watch the Chinatown Canada documentary on OMNI TV tonight

Saturday, Aug 21 at 8pm PST on Omni News (BC)

Todd Wong is interviewed about Vancouver Chinatown and see the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team in action at '09 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.

The footage was shot last June, when Kerry Beattie contacted me.  I recommended a number of people for them to talk to including Andrew Wong of Wild Rice Restaurant (Andrew's grandfather used to own the Lotus Hotel, where my grandfather Sonny Wong ran the Lotus Cafe Restaurant), and Shirley Chan and many others.

check link for other provinces

Silver Medal @ 3rd Banff Dragon Boat Races

Silver medal @ 3rd Annual Banff Dragon Boat Races, Aug 14/15, 2010.  Banff is named after Banffshire in Scotland, so I wore my new Macleod tartan.

It's been a busy week…..

Thursday I attended my Uncle Victor's funeral
Then… my girlfriend Deb and I drove to Vernon to stay at her parent's home in Vernon, enroute to attend the 3rd annual Banff Dragon Boat Festival.

On Friday morning, we went for a short kayak/canoe paddle, as 4 of our dragon boat team members had joined us at Kalamalka Lake.  We paddled just around Rattlensnake Point, for a good stretch of our paddling muscles.  Then after lunch we headed on the road to Banff.  It was longer than we expected.  I made the mistake of googling for road distance and calculated travel times – that did not take into account winding roads nor road construction.

When we reached Revelstoke, we all agreed not to take the scenic circle route of going to Radium Hot Springs, but instead to proceed straight to Banff.  Along the way, we had a brief stop in Golden BC, and a short visit to Lake Louise.

Upon arrival to Banff, we checked into our motel where the team was staying then headed to the Banff Brewing Company for a bite to eat and some socializing time with team members.

Saturday morning, we climbed on board the buses that took us to Lake Minewaka, where the 3rd annual Banff Dragon Boat Festival was being held.  Our first 200m race was a doozy.  The Dynasty style dragon boats are tippy enough with a round hull as opposed to the traditional double hull dragon boats – but we really did not need the Lane 4 boat Bear Scare going off course and forcing Lane 3 into our lane, and continuing to cut across the lanes until they finished off course, as lane 1 collided into us too.  A time penalty was accessed to Bear Scare team.  We finished off our Saturday racing with a 500m that saw us place 2nd.

Saturday night we went to a social at The Paddock bar, organized for all the dragon boat teams.  Then we went to the Legendary Wild Bill's restaurant where many of our team member's orders got terribly mixed up.  Steaks ordered as rare came out as well-done, and the prime rib that my girlfriend ordered came out as rare.  We did send it back to be returned as well-done minus the vegetables.  We can't recommend the service, but the restaurant was very interesting with cowboy decor, and a fun dance floor that saw a few of our team members joining in for some line dancing.  We did not stay for the KISS tribute band.

On Sunday, we came second in our semi-final heat that placed us into the C Final.  Then we relaxed and took lots of photos at the gorgeous Lake Minewaka site.  I was interviewed for a Banff Tourism video, as the film crew Matt and Jeff asked me questions about why I was in Banff, and what I enjoyed about my visit.  I enthusiastically told them I was in Banff for the dragon boat races, and the water was soooo much cleaner than in Vancouver, and it was great to see all the abundance of wildlife in Banff.

I also told them that I was wearing my kilt, because: 1) Banff was named after Banffshire in Scotland as the town's founders were from Scotland; and 2) the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team celebrates BC's founding pioneering cultures of Scottish and Chinese.

We raced in the C Final Division on Sunday afternoon.  It was a very tight race.  We were behind on the starts but caught up to the leading teams at the half-way mark.  We closely raced to the finish line against our ealier nemesis Bear Scare and an Edmonton team named Rice is Right.  We appeared to pull ahead and challenge Bear Scare for the finish.  All our paddlers dug in deep and reached out for front water, as our drummer Keng called for Power Series.  We called an early finish, and our team paddled harder, knowing we had good cardio training as our team core had been paddling since March – long before Calgary teams could get on the water before the ice melted on the Bow River.  Lanes 1, 2, and 3 all crossed the finish line, practically together.  Further behind in Lane 4, was the Red-Eyed Dragons, which were led by our team captain's cousin. (Talk about family rivalries!)


Spirit of Vancouver GHFC dragon boat team with a strong core of Gung Haggis paddlers, Gung Haggis alumni paddlers, 2 brand new first timers, + Richard's cousin from Calgary.

1/10th of a second was all that separated us between 2nd and 1st place.  Rice is Right came 3rd. We came in second place , as Bear Scare came 1/10th of a second faster than us.

Oh well…. medals for us!!!  We were happy!

My mother’s brother passes on…. Peace & Blessings to you Uncle Victor Mar


Mr. Victor Mar

MAR, Victor

May 24, 1933- August 1, 2010

Victor was surrounded by his loving family when he passed peacefully in his sleep.
He was courageous and valiant in his long battle with COPD right to the
very end continuing to inspire and encourage everyone around him.
Victor was the recipient of the Centennial Medal July 1, 1967 for his
meritorious service to the nation as a Canadian customs officer. He
will be sadly missed by his loving wife of 52 years, Pansy, daughters
Joni (Clint), Connie (Frank), Stacie, grandchildren Kira, Alex,
Brittany, Mikayla, mother, brothers Allan (Patricia), Andy (Sue),
sisters Verna (Laddie), Betty (Bill) and Sylvia (Ian). We are grateful
for the excellent care of Dr. Saberi and the compassionate nurses at the
Burnaby General Hospital Unit 2C. A celebration of his life will take
place on Thursday, August 12th at 2:00 p.m. at Forest Lawn Chapel, 3789
Royal Oak Avenue in Burnaby, followed by light refreshments. In lieu of
flowers the family would appreciate donations to BGH Restorative Care
Unit or the Canadian Lung Association.

Uncle Vic was well-loved by his family, and he was generous of heart and
spirit. My mother’s brother… I remember regular Friday Night visits
to play with my cousins when we were small, as our parents played
bridge. There were many family dinners at the Mar house. I can remember him showing me his body building pictures, the pinball machine, and when he worked at Canada Customs, he gave us a tour of the brand new luggage carousels.

My mother’s brother, Uncle Vic, is really the first passing in our Mar family since their father around 1954. I remember that he was sharing cool things with us like furniture and records, as he worked in retail.  There were lots of family dinners at their house, and I remember the pictures of him as a body builder. He had strong convictions and said what he thought. He told me he liked my website after he discovered it on the internet, when I bumped into him at his local public library. I thought that was cool… 70-something uncle finding my website on the internet.

National Post: Museum probes link between Chinese Restaurants and small-town Canada

Chinese Restaurants and small-town Canada exhibit at Royal Alberta Museum

My friend Linda Tzang, cultural curator at the Royal Alberta Museum is responsible for this:

Way back in 2002, Linda had initiated a project proposal on the Three Canadian Chinese Pioneer Families at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives – but had moved to Alberta, before the project really started.  Linda was also a guest speaker at our 2nd Rev. Chan Legacy Family Reunion dinner in 2000.  In 2002, she was also part of our board for Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop that created the 1st ACWW Community Builders Dinner that honoured Roy Mah, Paul Yee and Wayson Choy.

Back on April 6th, Linda wrote to me:

Hello Toddish,

I guess the guy who came up with the idea of ‘six degrees of
separation’ was right – the world is much smaller than we think.

Now that you’ve written, I’m going to hit you up for some
help.  I have almost accomplished the impossible – the museum is on the
brink of giving me permission to do my Chinese Restaurant project.  It
doesn’t look anything like the project I was working on at the CCCMA – I
think it’s a better version.  I was wondering though if you knew anyone
with memorabilia related to Chinese restaurants – ideally someone with a menu
collection.    I don’t need
a huge number of them but a few would be nice.

If you had any leads it would be appreciated.  Maybe one day
I’ll be able to attend another Gunghaggis banquet but I always just seem to
miss the date.



There’s one in nearly every Canadian city and town. And yet some argue the Chinese landmarks,

Courier article on Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant: History Ho Ho

Courier article on Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant – one of my favorite restaurants in Chinatown
interviews with our “Friends of Foo's Ho Ho” main organizers Jim
Wong-Chu, chef Joanne Sam, celebrities Tommy Chong, Red Robinson, and
Chinatown Lions Club Robbie Burns Dinner organizer Chuck Lew.

2010_July_FoosHoHo 012

I had
lunch today at Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant with friends from Heart of the City
Festival: Terry, Theresa and Celia.  We talked about my family's historical connections to
Chinatown, Strathcona, and DTES.

2010_July_FoosHoHo 009
Theresa really liked the House Special Chow Mein – photo Todd Wong

2010_July_FoosHoHo 004

Celia was very impressed by the curried beef and potatoes.  It's one of my favorite dishes. – photo Todd Wong

We ate: BBQ Pork Egg Foo Yung, Curried Beef & Potatoes, House Special Chow Mein on Crispy Noodles + Gai-Lan.  Yum yum yum… It was crowded.  Maybe the Courier article is to blame.

Courier is your online source of local news on Vancouver, British
Columbia, Canada. Find the latest breaking news from Vancouver, as well
as local sports, opinion, letters, entertainment, lifestyles, community,
events, TV listings, movie guide and reviews, community photos, jobs,
cars, and…

Larry Kwong, NHL's first Asian hockey player finally getting recognition

A hockey trailblazer emerges from obscurity

Larry Kwong (left), who broke the colour barrier in the NHL in 1948, is joined by former Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden after receiving an award in Penticton, B.C.

The first Asian to play in the NHL, Larry Kwong is at last receiving the recognition he deserves – photo Chad Soon

Tom Hawthorn writes a great story for the Globe & Mail about Larry Kwong, the first Asian player in the NHL

The news media is catching onto one of the greatest hockey stories never told: The story of how Larry Kwong only played one minute in the NHL, went on to become MVP in the Quebec Senior League, but never called up to the NHL again.

I attended the BC Hockey Hall of Fame induction dinner when Trevor Linden was the main event, on July 23, in Penticton BC.  But it was Trevor who took the time to come congratulate the inaugural Pioneer Award winner Larry Kwong. Three days after the event, the CBC Radio asked me for contact info on Chad Soon, the Vernon teacher who is spearheading the drive to nominate Larry Kwong into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.  And now eleven days later, a story appears in the Globe & Mail.

Check out the CBC Radio podcast

Watch the video that was shown at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Dinner that preceded Larry Kwong receiving a standing ovation for the the inaugural Pioneer Award.
See more

23, 2010 – BC Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Dinner (Penticton, BC)
Who was the first player from the Okanagan to make the NHL? The answer
is our next honouree. Not only did Larry Kwong put the Okanagan on the
hockey map, he made international headlines for breaking the NHL's
colour barrier…

Read my story about the July 23, BC Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony event:

Join the Larry Kwong Appreciation Society facebook group!/group.php?gid=50177632975&ref=ts