Item consists of a recording of part one in a series of three “Back to the Roots” podcasts about the history of Chinese-Canadian farming in Burnaby and the lower mainland. Part one is titled “A Family Farm”. The podcasts were created by students Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong from the Faculty of Land an…
Podcasts hosts: Rose Wu; Wei Yan Yeong
Persons from recorded extracts: Denise Fong; Josephine Chow
Music: prod. riddiman
Podcast Date: October 2020
Total Number of tracks: 1
Total Length of all tracks: 00:13:57 min
Photograph info: Store front of Way Sang Yuen Wat Kee & Co in Victoria, B.C., 1975. BV017.7.191
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Scope and Content
Item consists of a recording of part one in a series of three “Back to the Roots” podcasts about the history of Chinese-Canadian farming in Burnaby and the lower mainland. Part one is titled “A Family Farm”. The podcasts were created by students Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia Faculty and while student interns at Burnaby Village Museum. In this series the students connect their knowledge of food systems to their shared Chinese heritage in order to discover how Chinese Canadian history is rooted in their local food systems.
The podcast opens with Wei Yan Yeong and Rose Wu introducing themselves and their topic- the Chinese Canadian experience in Burnaby and the people who have made important contributions to the city’s development. “A Family Farm” talks about Chinese-owned businesses which are family run.
“The family-oriented nature of Chinese-owned businesses also extend to many of the early (and current) Chinese-owned farms in the Burnaby Big Bend area. When Chinese men first began farming in BC in the 1860s, a lot of them worked as labourers because they weren’t allowed to own land. After World War II many of these farmers were allowed to purchase lots, thanks to the Veterans Land Grant. These grants allowed returning veterans to purchase small parcels of land with government loans. Eventually, these men would start families on the farm, and many Chinese-owned farms became family-operated businesses where every member, male, female, child, and extended relatives were enlisted to work the grounds. And it was hard work, often from dawn to dusk, 6-7 days a week.”
02:23 – 07:50
This portion includes excerpts from Oral History interview with Josephine Chow (nee Hong) of Hop On Farms in the Burnaby Big Bend area. The interview was conducted by Burnaby Village Museum researcher Denise Fong. Josephine recalls growing up on the family farm with her six siblings. She tells of how the family pulled together money to purchase twelve acres along Marine Drive in 1951, her family’s background, daily life on the farm , responsibilities on the farm for her and her siblings and of how her mother had to balance working on the farm and providing for a family of ten to twelve people.
07:51 – 08:10
In this portion, hosts comment and reflect on their own experiences. “While it’s likely that a lot of this was done out of necessity and not being able to afford additional paid labourers, having grown up in Chinese households ourselves, we can definitely understand the rationale for these family-operated businesses and how it connects back to the Chinese understanding of family and kinship.”
08:11 – 09:06
In this portion, Rose and Wei provide information on the roots of the Chinese character for family “jia” in mandarin or “gah” in Cantonese. They explain that the term family is composed of two parts: the upper element is like a roof, symbolizing shelter, and the bottom part represents a pig which symbolizes food, whereby the Chinese character for family represents that of a farm.
They provide a quote from the writings of Francois de Martin-Donos “In ancient China, the farm is an enterprise, a shelter that insures one food and work. The farm is a place to rely on, but in return, needs to be maintained, including a set of responsibilities. In other words, “family” is the insurance of a stable life.”
09:07 – 10:27
In this portion, the hosts speak about how traditional Chinese thought is heavily influenced by the teachings of Confucius and Confucius philosophy. They explain how Confucius emphasized five sets of human relationships that form the basis for society: ruler and minister, husband and wife, parents and child, sibling and sibling, friend and friend. Of these five, three are familial relationships also known as Filial piety – the respect and care for one’s familial superiors (such as parents, elders, and ancestors). They speak of how this is one of Confucianism’s main teachings and in this respect caring for family members is seen as a moral obligation. In China housing arrangements are in the form of siheyuan”s — a type of residence that featured a courtyard surrounded on all four sides with buildings. These traditionally housed one large extended family if they were wealthy enough.
10:28 – 13:08
In this portion, hosts provide further information on Josephine Chow’s family experience working and living on the “Hop On” family farm through the decades. An excerpt from the interview with Josephine Chow conducted by Denise Fong is included. In this excerpt, Josephine reflects on her past experiences on the farm and her present day experiences of her siblings running the farm.
Final summary, credits and acknowledgements.
Beginning in 2018, University of British Columbia (UBC) students have interned with Burnaby Village Museum to create projects highlighting Chinese Canadian History in Burnaby. This project began as a joint partnership between Burnaby Village Museum and the UBC iniative for student teaching and research in Chinese Canadian Studies (INSTRCC), the UBC Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies program (ACAM), the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC Go Global and UBC St. John's College (SJC).
In 2020, due to the restrictions of COVID-19, the interns were asked to create virtual experiences to reimagine Burnaby Village Museum's historical Chinese Canadian programming in remote online spaces. Debbie Liang and Joty Gill (UBC alumni and graduates of Dr. Henry Yu's 2019 summer ACAM 390A Global Seminar to Aisa) returned to work with Burnaby Village Museum to create two short films showcasing the history of Chinese Canadian Chop Suey restaurants and piggeries in Burnaby. Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong (students in the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems) created a three episode podcast series "Back to the Roots" which delved into the topics of family-operated farming businesses, Chinese contributions to early local and alternative food systems, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbalism. During their research the interns interviewed Dr. John Yang and Burnaby Village Museum researcher and PHD candidate, Denise Fong.
Title based contents of sound recording
See also Interview with Josephine Chow by Denise Fong February 7, 2020 - BV020.6.1
Compilation of Research Resources used by authors Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong include:
Why is family important in China?
Burnaby Village Museum - Interview with Josephine Chow by Denise Fong Feb. 7, 2020. BV020.6.1
Covered Roots: The History of Vancouver's Chinese Farms https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4WHS2Uf3JU
Burnaby Village Museum Shares Chinese-Canadian Farming History This Summer https://westcoastfood.ca/burnaby-village-museum-shares-chinese-canadian-farming-history-this-summer/
Chinese Market Gardeners in the City of Burnaby BC Continue to Practice Urban Agriculture https://cityfarmer.info/chinese-market-gardeners-in-the-city-of-burnaby-bc-continue-to-practice-urban-agriculture/
Chinese Market Gardening in BC https://www.bcfoodhistory.ca/chinese-market-gardening-bc/