FEATURED BOOK: FINDING MR. WONG

Susan Crean’s memoir Finding Mr. Wong chronicles her effort to piece together the life of the man she knew as Wong, cook and housekeeper to her Irish Canadian family for two generations. Reminiscing, Crean writes, “I grew up in Mr. Wong’s kitchen …” A Chinese Head Tax payer hired by Crean’s grandfather in 1928, Wong Dong Wong remained on the job following Gordon Crean’s death in 1947. Mr. Wong eventually retired in 1965 and moved to Chinatown. Crean’s homage weaves the various strands of her memories of and discoveries about Mr. Wong during the last 25 years of his life; she travels the streets and histories of Chinatowns in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, and twice she visits Guangdong, China, where she located his home village, found descendants of his father’s brother, and learned the beginning of his story: orphaned as a newborn, then brought to Canada by his uncle, Wong YeeWoen.

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EVENTS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

At the Wongs’ Association Annual Christmas Banquet

Shan Qiao and I have been attending the annual banquet of the Wongs' Association of Ontario (Wong Kung Har Wun Sun) for many years now. It takes place in the Summer. We also frequently participate in the Christmas gathering in December. This year it was held at the Dim Sum King on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto on December 28th. We were the guests of Chuck K. Wong, and were delighted to attend with Chuck C.C. Wong and his wife Margaret, as well as Chuck K Wong, his wife Libby Wong, and son Brian....

FROM THE BLOG

Chinese head tax stories: Wong Dong Wong

THE TIES BETWEEN A HOUSE BOY AND HIS EMPLOYER

This piece by Lu Wong, who reports from Vancouver for Sing Tao, appeared in Sing Tao Daily on September 18th, 2010. You can also download it as a PDF (3.2 Mb). This translation is by Shan (Joanna) Qiao. A tale of a man much like the one depicted in Hong Kong’s award-winning movie A Simple Life is happening here in Canada. Former Chair of The Writer’s Union of Canada Susan Crean started her trip to Taishan, China last year in search of the untold story of Wong Chong Wong, her family servant for 37 years. Susan went to...

The Chinese Head Tax in Canada Certificate of Registration

IN SEARCH OF A HEAD TAX PAYER’S PAST

This article, by a staff writer, was originally published in Sing Tao September 18, 2010, and later reprinted in Kang He magazine. You can also download the article as a PDF (6.1Mb). The translation below is by Shan (Joanna) Qiao.Canadian writer of Irish descent Susan Crean is searching for the past of a long deceased family servant, the Head Tax payer Wong Dong Wong, a kind and influential member of her family who is still remembered . Born and raised in a middle class family in Toronto's Forest Hill, Susan studied and travelled in Europe and...

Mr Wong and The Chinese Exclusion Act in Canada

MR. WONG’S STORY: A TALE OF SACRIFICE AND GENEROSITY

This article was originally published in The Toronto Star on January 26, 2011 as part of a special supplement celebrating the Chinese New Year. It’s the story of Wong Dong Wong who came to Canada as a teenager in 1911 to work in his uncle’s restaurant in Vancouver. He was an orphan with no future in China but he made one for himself in Canada, migrating East to Toronto in 1917 to work as a domestic cook. He was hired by my grandfather in 1928. You can download a PDF version of the piece (78Kb). I...

Chinese Canadian History: Mr Wong

LOOKING FOR WONG DONG WONG

This piece was published in Tai Shan magazine in November, 2010, a scan of which you can download as a PDF (2.3Mb). I am a Canadian writer of Scottish and Irish descent. Two years ago I began work on a book which will include the story of a Chinese Canadian, Wong Dong Wong, who was born in Taishan, and came to Canada as a boy of 16 in 1911. In 1917, he relocated from Vancouver on Canada's West coast to Toronto, and by the late 1920s when he met my grandfather he was working as a domestic cook....

Chinese in Canada History: The Wong's Association

VISITING THE WONGS’ ASSOCIATION

This article was originally published in the Wongs' Association Convention magazine in 2011. You can also download the article as a PDF (2.3Mb). Climbing the narrow staircase to the Wongs’ Association’s third floor office in downtown Toronto, past the plaque reading Wong Kung Har Wun Sun Association in Chinese and English, you reach a nondescript door that gives no hint of what lies beyond. When the association bought the building in 1979 the entire top floor was redesigned and the space opened up. Along with offices and a small kitchen, it now accommodates a large assembly hall with...

MEETING HOWE CHAN

Shortly after I arrived at Kogawa House, artist Laura Bucci came for an evening session of button making. She arrived with several plastic packing boxes filled with an array of coloured and patterned paper, old magazines, scissors, glue, and a collection of rubber stamps with words like “escape” and “passion” on them.  The event was part of Word on the Street, which expanded this year to three days over the weekend, and to off the traditional site at the Central Library to community venues like Kogawa House. We set up a table in the living room and over the...

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