New Site Promotes Chinese-Canadian Heritage
The Chinese Experience in British Columbia. Thanks to UBC Library and the City of Vancouver Archives, a new website offers users a fascinating look at a century of local Chinese-Canadian heritage – and students and teachers an array of learning opportunities.The site, entitled The Chinese Experience in British Columbia, is found at www.library.ubc.ca/chineseinbc. It features digitized holdings from two sources: the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection at UBC, and the Yip family and Yip Sang Company collection at the City of Vancouver Archives. (Digitization refers to the conversion of analogue objects – such as books, journals, audio and video recordings – into digital formats that can be accessed by anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.) Quotes from renowned Canadian author Wayson Choy also appear on the site alongside various images.
More than 2,300 items from the exceptional Chung Collection – a designated national treasure worth more than $5 million – have been digitized for the site. This process is ongoing, with more items being added regularly. The collection, which focuses on the Asian experience in Canada, West Coast history and the Canadian Pacific Railway, features more than 25,000 items, and the goal is to eventually have most of these digitized and available on the website.
More than 600 letters from the Yip family and Yip Sang Company – a prominent family and business from Vancouver’s Chinatown – are featured on the site. Most of these letters involved Chinese-Canadian immigrants, their families in China, requests for financial assistance, etc. They came to the Wing Sang building in Chinatown because Yip Sang acted as an unofficial postmaster for Vancouver’s Chinese community (the building was also home to Yip Sang’s business); letters addressed in Chinese characters weren’t able to pass through the Canadian postage system.
Yip Sang also was the Chinese passenger agent for the CPR, meaning that any Chinese residents from Vancouver wanting to sail to China would have proceeded through him. Included on the website is the entire run of 899 ticket stub books from the Chung Collection. Names of passengers are indexed, which enables users to search for ancestors. The site also enables users to share information and stories, such as providing names of unidentified people in photos or translations of Chinese passengers or characters.
Meanwhile, schools, teachers and students are allowed to reproduce, share electronically, exhibit, crop, translate, archive and use any content on the site and the associated digital collections for non-commercial purposes. Teachers can also use, modify, reproduce and distribute website text for non-commercial purposes without having to request additional permission.
The Chinese Experience in British Columbia was made possible in part through the Canadian Culture Online Program from the Department of Canadian Heritage, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.
Remember federal election day [political advertisement]. Photo courtesy of UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections.
Envelope, Chen Dian Quan to father, Chen Da Chun, 1904. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives.