Tradition in Felicities: Celebrating the History of Canada’s Oldest Chinatown
The content of the temporary exhibition Tradition in Felicities, has been digitized as a trilingual video Tradition in Felicities: Celebrating the History of Canada’s Oldest Chinatown. It is a short digital version that captures the diverse elements of this exhibition in honour of Victoria’s Chinatown history. Click for the Mandarin and French versions.
Watch a digital animation that recreates the oldest-known Chinese Freemason’s lantern in its original full glory. Imagining this digitally was made possible by the work of Royal BC Museum conservator Lisa Bengston and RaceRocks 3D.
Dr David Chuenyan Lai
Canada’s “Mr Chinatown” has written many books and articles on Canada’s Chinatowns. He played an important role in the revitalization of Victoria’s Chinatown in the 1980s. This project helped preserve heritage buildings, restore city blocks and open the Chinatown Care Centre in Victoria.
Reta Der, Corinne Wong and Gerald Quan
Reta, Corinne and Gerald are the children of Wah Quan, owner of Yee Lun Ark Kee, the only import-export business out of 104 in Chinatown from the late 19th century to survive and prosper into the 20th-century. Wah Quan was the “unofficial mayor of Chinatown” in his time.
Bonita Mar and Lena Lee
Bonita and Lena are granddaughters of Sam Wing Poy, the first owner of Loy Sing Guen, the oldest butcher shop in Chinatown. Loy Sing Guen has been in business since 1889 and is still a going concern. Bonita and Lena grew up in the family business during the 1930s and 1940s and remain connected to the Chinatown community.
Wah Doc (Wally) Low and Frank Low
Wally and his son, Frank, both lived in Chinatown. They and the rest of the Low family have maintained close ties to the Chinatown community. Parts of this interview are in their native dialect, Say Yup. Wally’s father, Kai Ho Low, was one of the donors listed on the Chinese Freemason’s Lantern.
Jon Joe (Chow) and Charlayne Thornton-Joe
Jon’s father owned a cobbler shop in Chinatown in the early 20th century. Jon is one of only four Chinese Freemason’s Esteemed Elders in Canada and the only known witness who saw the Chinese Freemason’s Lantern in its full glory. Several leaders in Victoria's Chinese community, including Jon’s daughter, Charlayne, are from this family.