Weekly Reflections: People Brought Character and Culture to Peace River – Part 70

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Speaking of Chinese restaurants and the food served indoors, as we were in the more recent Ponderings, it’s hard to imagine a Chinese meal without the accompaniment of tea.


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As mentioned, on May 14, 2011, the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Center, in conjunction with the Royal Alberta Museum – Chop Suey on the Prairies traveling exhibit, A Reflection on Chinese Restaurants in Alberta, provided the opportunity to taste and learn about various Asian teas. Wand Wagner of ZenSpa, demonstrated the art of drinking – sipping and serving tea in China, as well as its history and culture. In doing so, she offered tastings of teas from China, Korea and Japan.

Further investigation has been added to Wend’s information. According to one source: The tea was “used as an herbal medicine – the Chinese added the leaves to their food to provide nutrients, or as an antidote to poison.” It is also known for its benefits to aid digestion, which is why the Chinese prefer to drink tea after meals.

Tea has been cultivated, drunk and marketed in China for thousands of years. “In fact, China is an original producer of tea and is renowned for its skills in tea planting and making. Traditions vary from [Chinese] province to province, but drinking tea is an integral part of all Chinese culture. The customs of tea drinking spread to Europe and many other parts of the 15 e and 16 e centuries. In the 19 e century, [the clipper] Cutty Sark was built in response to the surge in tea consumption in the UK.

The Cutty Sark was one of many ships that carried China’s new crop of tea, resulting in profit and a race, as tea “was incredibly fashionable among the teahouses and salons of Great Britain. Victorian Brittany ”. As the first batch of the new tea crop was in high demand, “the first shipment of tea to arrive fetched the highest price.” Indeed, the annual tea race was a Victorian sensation: the progress of the ships was reported by telegraph and could be followed in the newspapers. Huge bets were made on the outcome.


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Today, the Cutty Sark clipper, built in Scotland, is better known for its likeness on a whiskey bottle than for its tea-carrying capabilities.

Tea wasn’t the only movement outside of China. Immigration to Canada, as we have learned, was and is a fact, initially fraught with difficulties.

In a brief history, we learn: “Although the earliest documentation of people from China immigrating to Canada dates back to 1788, it was not until workers were needed to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) that the immigration from China has increased. Between 1880 and 1885, approximately 15,000 Chinese workers came to Canada to work at CP. In 1885, the Canadian government implemented an immigration tax, also known as a head tax, targeting people from China, which slowed immigration. Finally, in 1947, the discriminatory head tax was repealed and Chinese families were able to immigrate to Canada more easily.

The construction of the CP brought many new Chinese immigrants to small towns en route across the Prairies. Immigrants had difficulty finding work, especially those who were not fluent in English. Opening a restaurant, while important to the community, did not require fluency in English. To please their customers, Western food was served exclusively until after the 1960s, when Chinese food was subtly introduced – although Chinese food suited the Canadian palate.

In 2016, Senator Victor Oh paid tribute to the “tenth anniversary of the [Canadian] The government’s apology for the Head Tax Act and Chinese Exclusion – one of the darkest moments in Canadian history. Senator Victor Oh – c (Ontario-Mississauga) – born in Singapore, immigrated to Canada in 1978, appointed to the Senate of Canada in January 2013, takes this story further.


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“Due to labor shortages, thousands of Chinese men were brought to Canada in the 1880s. Their job was to help build the western section of the Canadian Pacific Railway, helping to connect our country and Canadians from east to west. Chinese labor was cheap and easily exploitable. In addition to the long working hours, Chinese crews were paid considerably less than other workers. They were also assigned to the most difficult and dangerous jobs. Hundreds were injured or died.

“When the railway was completed, the demand for foreign labor declined. Soon after, a period of legal racism against Chinese migrants began. In 1885, the federal government imposed a head tax of $ 50 on any Chinese entering Canada. The head tax was intended to completely restrict Chinese immigration by making it difficult for individuals and families to come to Canada. As anti-Chinese sentiment grew, the head tax was raised to $ 500 in 1903. In 1923, the federal government replaced the head tax with the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as of China’s Exclusion Law. This act virtually banned anyone from China from legally entering the country. While many Chinese immigrants returned to China, those who remained in Canada felt unwelcome.

“Despite [Chinese] serving in WWII and numerous petitions against the unjust act, it was not until 1947 that the federal government repealed the Chinese Immigration Act. However, restrictions on Chinese immigration to Canada have not been removed. In fact, in the same year, in a speech in Parliament, the First


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Minister Mackenzie King said: “Canada is perfectly within its rights to choose the people we see as desirable future citizens… Large-scale migration from the Orient would change the basic makeup of the Canadian population. “These comments reflected the widespread acceptance of discrimination against Chinese immigration to Canada.

“On June 22, 2006, the Government of Canada issued a full apology to Chinese Canadians for the Head Tax and Exclusion Act. This is an important step towards reconciliation that has enabled our community to move forward as full and equal members of Canadian society.

Note: Government of Canada publication documents decision by William Lyon Mackenzie King – As Deputy Minister of Labor, King served as Commissioner of the Royal Commission of Canada Concerning the Losses suffered by the Japanese people in Vancouver, Columbia. British, during the riots of September 1907, which also affected the Chinese in the area. It was King who, as head of this commission, accepted the payments for the losses suffered.

Although the Cutty Sark was a clipper – a tall ship built in Scotland known for transporting tea from China to the UK, Norman Kwong, of modest height – 5’9 “, some say 5’7”, nor tall by football standards – one full-back – No.95 of former Edmonton Eskimos (1951-1960), now Elks, was affectionately known as the China Clipper – a “relentless and fierce full-back [full back]With the Edmonton Eskimos – the first Canadian Football League (CFL) player of Chinese descent, when he started with the Calgary Stampeders. At 18, with the Stampeders, he was the youngest player to win the 1948 Gray Cup – the first of four he would win – 1948, 1954, 1955, 1956.


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Normie, as she was affectionately known, has accomplished a lot in football and beyond in her 86-year-old age. e Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, 2005-2010; numerous football record holder – when he retired from football in 1960, the year he married Mary Lee, he held 30 CFL records and two Schenley Awards as the league’s top Canadian; Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1955; voted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1969; Order of Canada, 1998 – the list seems endless. Business interested him – real estate; Calgary Stampeders football team – president and general manager (1988-1991); co-owned by the Calgary Flames (1980-1994) – won the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Norman Lim Kwong was born in Calgary on October 24, 1929, the fifth of six children of Chinese immigrants Charles and Lily (Lee) who immigrated to Canada from Canton, China, according to another source in Taishan, Guangdong Province – Charles in 1907, Lily 1912 with her family, despite the head tax of $ 500. The Kwong Elders operated a grocery store – Riverside Cash and Carry in Calgary’s Riverside neighborhood from 1918 to 1959.

More information on Normie Kwong and others in future Ponderings.


Sources: Peace River remembers, Jack Coulter, Frank Richardson; Turning the Pages of Time – History of Nampa and the surrounding districts; The files of the Peace River Museum, the Archives and the Mackenzie Center; Peace River Record-Gazette; Peace River Standard; Coots, Codgers and Curmudgeons – Hal C. Sisson and Dwayne W. Rowe; Edmonton Journal

Beth Wilkins is a researcher at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Center.



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