Chung Collection News


It is finally starting to feel a little like summer in Vancouver- we hope you have been enjoying yourselves! Our featured photograph this month is a lovely summer scene:

This young bather is enjoying the lake near Silver Island, Ontario in July of 1921. The photo is from an album of photographs taken by a traveller on the Canadian Pacific Railway and steamships. We would guess that Helen Pearson, as captioned in the album, was a family member or neighbour of the photographer who seems to have had a summer home on Silver Island (south of Sudbury).


Do you plan on visiting "Curious," the Royal B.C. Museum exhibition at the Wing Sang gallery this summer? It looks like a fascinating and beautiful exhibtion!

Possibly the most anticipated part of this exhibition is "Intimate Glimpses" which features paintings, documents and artifacts from the life of Emily Carr. The rest of the exhibition looks fascinating too though- "Bottled Beauty" features items from their wet collection (literally- pickled specimens!) and you can play a game of "Artifact/Artifiction-" the curators have provided true or false statements about the artifacts, and you get to guess!

I'm excited to see the "Magic Lantern" section of the exhibition. We have a number of magic lantern slides in the Chung Collection as well, primarily examples that were used by the CPR to promote tourism along their railway and ship lines. The examples from the RBCM look beautiful, and all depict scenes throughout British Columbia.

When I last reported about the Wing Sang gallery at the Rennie building, tours were free but required pre-regisistration. For this summer, you can visit any time during opening hours (daily from 10 am - 6 pm) but there is an admittance fee of $11 (or $33 per family, children under 5 free, free for RBCM members). Find all the visitor information you need here. The exhibition opened on June 14, and is there until Sept. 3.


Have you been spring cleaning your home this weekend? How would you like to try spring cleaning an Empress steamship?

This month's featured photograph depicts the second Empress of Britain being tugged for her "spring cleaning" in Southampton, England. This photograph was taken in May of 1932. According to the photographer, this cleaning was an annual affair, so this is probably only the first or second cleaning- she was launched in July 1930.

For more photographs of the Empress of Britain, search the Chung Collection database for "Empress of Britain" and select photographic material as the media type- or, click here for the search results.


The Chung Collection exhibition space will be open this Saturday, May 26 from noon to 4 pm, specifically for Alumni Weekend, but anyone would be welcome to drop in to see the exhibition. Please see our contact page for information if you have never been here before.

If you are a UBC alumni and are interested in joining this or other alumni weekend events, Alumni Affairs will have a registration table in the SUB on Saturday. Otherwise, feel free to drop in here to see the collection! Alumni Weekend details can be found here.


Vancouver's Chinatown is full of beautiful and interesting photo opportunities. For the next month you can have your Chinatown photo on display at Kee's Laundry Gallery on 228 East Georgia, and also online through their gallery site (be patient and give it a few minutes to load- it's worth it!). Using the popular photo sharing application Instagram, you can take a photo and give it the hashtag #chinatownyvr to have it included in the gallery and online.

The exhibition is curated/sponsored by the advertising agency St. Bernadine Mission Communications. According to the Kee's Laundry site, the agency moved to Chinatown in 2011 and wanted to do something to celebrate their new neighbourhood. What a great idea! Because Kee's Laundry is a window gallery, you can go and view the exhibition from the street anytime of day or night.

If you're curious about how Kee's Laundry got it's name, they have a little bit of history here - looks like they did a little archival research!


Two upcoming events of interest to Chung Collection researchers, both with Vancouver Heritage:

Their slate of upcoming walking tours includes Chinatown tours on April 27, May 25 and June 22 from noon to 1:30. The tour price is $12 per person, and leaves from the SE corner of Carrall and Pender (walk-ups welcome).

And on April 25, a brown bag lunch lecture at the downtown BCIT campus will discuss the influence of the Canadian Pacific Railway company in shaping downtown Vancouver. The lecturer is Michael Gordon, the Senior Central Area Planner for the City of Vancouver. The lecture admission is also $12.

Be sure to check out their website for other great heritage events!


Friday March 23 and Saturday March 24 at 7 pm you are invited to a free staged reading of Larry Wong's new play, Empress of Asia, based on his original one act play: Siu Yeh – A Midnight Snack. The readings will take place at the Firehall Arts Centre at 280 East Cordova Street. From the Firehall Arts Centre:

"Can a young woman, born at the dawn of the 20th Century, find happiness with a husband true to the ways of the Qing Dynasty and 20 years her senior? Only after she endures two weeks in the Pig Pen, pays her $500 Head Tax on her arrival in Canada and satisfies his foot fetish.

The development of Empress of Asia has been supported through the Community Historical Recognition Program, Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

For more information, visit or call 604.689.0926

Read by: BC Lee, Minh Ly, Lissa Neptuno, Nelson Wong, Andrea Yu

Written by Larry Wong
Director & Dramaturg: Donna Spencer
Set and Video Consultant: Craig Alfredson
Lighting Consultant: Jamie Burns
Costume Consultant: Sabrina Evertt"

Larry is well-known in the Vancouver community for his involvement with the Chinese Canadian Military Museum, the Vancouver Historical Society and the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C., for which he writes the informative column "Ask Larry" on their website. It's very exciting to have a local expert write a play with Empress of Asia as the title, since it is such an important ship to the Chung Collection!

As mentioned above, the reading is free and open to the public- no advance tickets required. Definitely a great outing for Friday or Saturday night!


In honour of St. Patrick's Day on March 17, this month's featured photograph is of an Irish family immigrating to Canada on the CPR steamship S.S. Montclare:

The photograph is captioned, "McKenna Family Coalisland S.S. Montclare," which leads to the assumption that the family was probably from Coalisland in Northern Ireland. This photograph makes up part of the Clandonald material in the Chung Collection. This archival material tells the story of the settlement of Clandonald Colony in Alberta, which was a colony of immigrants from Scotland and Northern Ireland in 1926-27. This was just one community in the prairies settled under the auspices of the CPR Department of Colonization and Development (search for more records related to this department.)

Supposing you wanted to figure out the names of these passengers, the source you would want to consult is the passenger list for the voyage. While the Chung Collection does have some passenger lists (for example, search for Montclare passenger lists) the most thorough source is microfilmed passenger lists, typically available at public libraries. You can also search immigration records through this database at Library and Archives Canada. Since this photograph is dated 1927, search for the surname McKenna, in 1927, on the ship Montclare, a number of possible McKenna family members are listed.


If you meant to register for the WCILCOS (World Confederation of Institutes and Libraries in Chinese Overseas Studies) conference here at UBC in May of this year but missed the deadline, there is good news: the deadline is extended until March 15. Past WCILCOS conferences "have been very successful in bringing librarians, institutes, and scholars in Chinese Overseas Studies together, not only in providing a platform for librarians to interact and exchange ideas with scholars and collectors, but also a platform for tackling issues in collection development, access, preservation, and information-sharing in the field of Chinese Overseas."

You can check out the program here and registration information here.


One of the wonderful things about giving tours of the Chung Collection exhibition space is what I learn from the visitors, many of whom have backgrounds in history and knowledge to share. We recently welcomed students from Corpus Christi College, and their instructor, Dr. Jacqueline Gresko told me about the Chinese nursing sister in this photograph:

Dr. Gresko explained that the nursing sister was Teresa Fung, who was brought from China to Vancouver to serve in one of the clinics run by the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, a Montreal-based mission which had previously focused on missions and medical services in Canton, but eventually spread to include Chinese immigrants in Canada. There is an excellent history of their medical services for the Chinese populations in Montreal and Vancouver written by Hugette Torcotte, which is freely available online through the Canadian Catholic Historical Association Historical Studies website.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia