Monthly Archives: March 2012

Peaceful Restaurant, is a Vancouver trendsetter according to Georgia Straight

Are Vancouver restaurants trendsetters?
We went to Peaceful Restaurant on Broadway following dragon boat practice.
little article about food in Vancouver – with a mention of one of my
favorite Chinese restaurants. Great lunch yesterday at Peaceful Restaurant after dragon boat practice. Great hand made noodles and potato

We always look for good cheap eats following a dragon boat practice, and over the years we have developed some favorite restaurants.  We had been to Sha-Lin
noodle house off and on over the years, and really enjoyed their hand made noodles. But one evening, when it was too crowded, we
discovered Peaceful, and fell in love with both the food and the people – Especially Amelia!

This Sunday, we ordered Mu-Chuy vegetables with hand-made noodles, as well as our perennial favorite potato rolls.  We then added some more noodles with spicy cucumbers.  Xiaolongbao are also some of our favorites – they are bun dumplings with meat and soup inside.  How they get the soup inside is a mystery!!!

Restaurant-industry professionals debate how trendsetting our food scene is on a global scale and what makes our city unique.

Barber of Sevillie is a comedic and cultural gem

Barber of Seville is a comedic and cultural gem

Vancouver Opera
March 17-25

Figaro (Joshua Hopkins) “fools around” with Rosina (Sandra Piques Eddy).
– photo courtesy of Vancouver Opera

Rossini’s Overture to the Barber of Seville is one of the most perfect pieces of music ever composed.  It stays with you for the rest of your life.  A quick listen of a few notes will remind you of the Bugs Bunny cartoon “The Rabbit of Figaro” or the movie “Breaking Away” with the young bicyclist racing down the roads of the American mid-west.  But at the Vancouver Opera, when most operas leave the stage curtain down and simply play the overture, for this production the curtain was up and the characters of a 1940’s era movie backlot came on stage to move props around and attend to the wardrobe.  One of the workmen even came onstage, opened his lunch bucket, and took out a carrot, in a comic sight gag nod to Bugs Bunny.  Much more was to come, as this smallish three scene opera originally set around a barber shop in Seville, was made to fill the large stage that became a movie backlot full of visual delights.  And when the overture was finished, there were about twenty men all standing on stage in their underwear.

This opera can sometimes be a long one to sit through, leaving some who have seen it a few times before wanting to give it a pass. Kudos go to the VO designers and directors for a totally delightful and refreshing staging that keeps us entertained both musically and visually throughout.

Barber of Seville reminds of me some of the Shakespeare comedies, such as As You Like It or All’s Well That Ends Well, because of the disguises and miscommunication that result in the comedic plot.  In this Rossini opera, Rosina (now a young movie starlet) is overseen by Bartolo (now the movie director) who plans to marry her.  But Rosina is also being wooed by Count Almaviva who assumes a number of disguises to woo her and be in her presence.  Guess who wins the girl.

The character of Figaro the barber is both a matchmaker and mischief maker. He is sung brilliantly by Joshua Hopkins who is a crowd favourite. Sandra Piques Eddy plays Rosina, and is a flirtatious standout, easily reminding me of all the reasons why I fell in love with Italian-Canadian women. Rene Barbera as Count Almaviva is amazing especially with each costume change and disguise.  Thomas Hammons has to play the villainous svengali of Dr. Bartolo, who was sometimes hard to hear, but his broad actions more than conveyed the comedic nuances well beyond the middle of the mezzanine.

An all-North American cast performs this Italian opera, which was originally based on a trio of French plays by Pierre Beaumarchais.  As a comedy, many of the lines are spoken rather than sung.  This is one of the first times, I have really been able to pick out many of the words such as “Presto” and understand the action.  I like to say that Italian is the 3rd language I have learned, having studied classical music, and sitting at the QE Theatre, I really wished that I was fluent in Italian to really enjoy more of the production.  But it really is wonderful in any language.  The surtitles translate the meanings of the conversation, complete with 1940’s idioms and dialect.  The singing is excellent, the orchestra, lead by Robert Tweten, shines, and the music is some of the best ever composed.

More opera spoof.
– photo courtesy of Vancouver Opera

Gung Haggis brings Chinese dragons and lions to St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragons invade St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Vancouver 

Lions and Dragons and more Dragons – oh My!  Gung Haggis Fat Choy entry in the CelticFest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Vancouver. “Perhaps
no group spoke to the modern mixing of cultures better than the Gung
Haggis Fat Choy revellers who wove in and out of the action Sunday
morning. The colourful Chinese dragons and green attire represented the
relatively new hybridized festival that originated in Vancouver. A
coincidental celebration of both Robert Burns Day and the Chinese New
Year brought the new celebration that
creates an interesting
mix of poetry, music and food every January.

“I think it’s an interesting idea — we have these Chinese unions combined with St. Patrick’s Day,” said Nick Hsu.

The 43-year-old was part of a group of family and friends who travelled up from Seattle to parade.

Vancouver St. Patrick’s Day parade takes over streets of downtown


It was one of the best entries yet for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy troupe in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade… Past years have seen a large Taiwanese dragon boat as a parade float.  But for 2012… we had 2 Chinese Lion dancers + 1 five-person parade dragon + walkers holding 5 more dragon hand puppets to help celebrate the Year of the Dragon.Paddlers from the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team in Vancouver were joined by martial artists friends from Seattle.  In Seattle, the 2012 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Seattle dinner was a benefit for Belltown Martial Arts Club, which have participated in the Seattle multicultural dinner for most of the past six years.  The Vancouver Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner celebrated it’s 15th dinner in 20012, and the dragon boat team has been paddling since 2002.

For 2012, I brought some of my dragon boat hand puppets from home, as I did for the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade, when I had walked with the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.  We interacted with many of the children watching the parade, who were delighted to see the plushy dragon toys!  We encouraged them to “pet the dragon’s head for good luck”, which many children including adults such as CelticFest chair Joanna Hickey did.

Gung Haggis paddler Xavier MacDonald strutted the streets in his kilt with a Chinese lion head costume – photo Todd Wong


Decorating the car, and everybody wears a necklace with green hats optional!  What a great group of people!  We were entry #73, and we decorated the car from the middle of Granville St. Bridge – then moved onto the Howe St. onramp, as the parade filed into order starting at Drake. St.

Video from St. Patrick’s Day Parade – look for Gung Haggis Fat Choy sign at 0:19 + interviews at 9:36

of people have crowded downtown Vancouver’s Howe Street this morning to
watch as bagpipers, Irish dancers and hurlers–of the sporting variety
–paraded with dreadlocked dancers, green samba queens and even a roller
derby team.

Charlie Quan, head tax warrior, Rest In Peace, 1907-1912

Charlie Quan stood up for Head Tax Redress in 2005 at age 98

Quan was the the first person to receive a head tax redress ex-gratia
payment in 2006.  Charlie came to Canada as a small young child, and had
to pay $500 head tax, at the start of the previous century. In 2005, He
was a brave man calling for a full head tax redress and payment, when
others were feeling too afraid.  It was wonderful to meet and talk with
him, and I discovered he was the grandfather of one of my childhood

on Fri 20 Oct 2006 03:59 PM PDT

Quan. Standing are Victor Wong, Gim Wong and Sid Tan – photo Todd Wong

I met Charlie through renowned head tax activist Sid Tan.  Sid told a story at Charlie's service in his eulogy, about how Charlie came up to him after the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal in 2003.  “Charlie came up to me,” Sid says, “He said, you and Gim and Victor are doing a good job, but you need some help.”

“You're a head tax payer?” Sid says he thought maybe Charlie was a son or descendant of a head tax payer. But Charlie Quan had come to Canada at a young age, and in 2003, he was only 96 years old.

In the next few years, the head tax redress ramped up to one of the major issues of the 2005-2006 federal election campaign.  The Liberal Government of Paul Martin promised the ACE program of Acknowledgement, Commemoration and Education.  But Charlie wanted an apology and a monetary redress.  He went on record as saying what he thought a fair price would be.  You can see him in this CBC interview. 

Check out my blog posts with Charlie here:

Sid Tan, friend of the family sent this message out yesterday evening.

In Memory of
Mr. Charlie Sang Now Quan
February 15, 1907 – February 23, 2012
It is
with sadness that we announce the passing of Mr. Charlie Sang Now Quan. Charlie
was born in Hoyping, China and passed away peacefully in Vancouver, BC on
February 23, 2012 at the age of 105. He was predeceased by his wife, Own Yee
Lee. He is lovingly survived by his daughter-in-law Chung Yit Quan, his two sons
Gary, Wesley, his six grandchildren and his seven

He will be deeply missed
by his family and friends. The family has asked for privacy until after the service.

on Mon 27 Nov 2006 10:12 PM PST
members: Libby Davies, Charlie Quan, Jack Layton, ??, Gim Wong, Ujjal Dosanjh – photo Todd Wong

on Fri 20 Oct 2006 04:08 PM PDT
Charlie Quan holding cheque, Foon
Chang Ron Mah, Victor Wong and Todd Wong – photo Eric

on Thu 22 Jun 2006 10:38 PM PDT

Charlie Quan with his favorite grandson Terry Quan – my elementary school friend – photo Todd Wong

Jim Green, rest in peace

Jim Green, former city councilor passes away

Feb 14th – City Council passed the motion to award the Freedom of the
City award to Jim Green.  Jim really was a renaissance man.  He loved opera, taught humanities, was a university lecturer, a union shop steward, a community worker and advocate, he was a two time city councilor, and a two time mayoral candidate.
Here is a Feb 16th Georgia Straight article.

Jim Green and Larry Campbell, then councilor and mayor of Vancouver, pose for pictures with Chinese Canadian veterans of Pacific Unit 280, following a Remembrance Day ceremony November 11th, 2004.  2nd from Left is Alex Louie, who just passed away on February 18th.  My Uncle Daniel Lee is 5th from left, between councilor Raymond Louie, and then mayor Larry Campbell – Uncle Dan passed away January 26th 2010.  These Chinese Canadian veterans, joined the Canadian Armed Forces during WW2 when Canadian born citizens of Chinese ancestry were designated as “Resident Aliens” and unable to vote in the country of their birth.  As a supporter of equality issues in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and a City Councilor, it was fitting that Jim Green, originally an American draft dodger, came to honour their contributions to Vancouver society and history.

Green was a lovable conundrum… who said his favorite afternoon
activity was drinking beer, playing pool and watching live opera. Sorry
I didn't get to do all that and play my accordion with him – but one
evening – I did put a kilt on Jim Green, and we had haggis and scotch.  He had phoned me to give the Address to the Haggis at a whisky tasting fundraiser for MLA Jenny Kwan.

Here is a story about Jim by my friend Tom Hawthorn, for the Globe & Mail.

Green had helped to take cuttings from the cherry tree at Kogawa House,
then he helped to plant a young tree at Vancouver City Hall in 2005.
When I bumped into him, he would ask how Kogawa House was doing…

Back in October 2005, I had bumped into Jim at the 2nd annual Mayors' Arts Awards.  He had asked how things were going, and I told him that Joy Kogawa's childhood home was now threatened with a demolition application.  He was shocked, asking if I knew that City Council had just passed a motion to plant a cherry tree at City Hall and proclaim “Obasan Cherry Tree Day”.  He then took the opportunity to speak to the audience at the Arts Awards to tell them about the campaign to save Kogawa House, which I had just gotten involved in at at the last week of September.  Later in November, our Save Kogawa House committee when before City Council to ask for help, and they passed a motion to invoke a rarely used bylaw to delay the processing of the demolition permit.  Jim played an important role that day, and gave us lots of support.  Today we are now planning our 4th writer-in-residence program for Historic Joy Kogawa House where I am chair, and also on the board of The Land Conservancy of BC, which owns and maintains Kogawa House.

Author Joy Kogawa, then Chief Librarian Paul Whitney, Vancouver Opera Manager James Wright, and then city councilor Jim Green, in November 2005.  Joy and Jim performed the sod turning at Vancouver City Hall, for the planting of the “Obasan cherry tree” taken as a cutting from the cherry tree at Historic Joy Kogawa House.

Here is a lovely tribute by Margo Harper, News Director, CTV British Columbia

Here is a Feb 17th Globe & Mail story by another friend Hadani Ditmars written about a walk in the Viaduct area with Jim Green and former city planner Larry Beasley, talking about what could happen if the Viaducts came down :