In this series, I have focused on one Chinese Case file as the source material and applied an intensive analysis to the correspondence. My advice to all those who have acquired one or more Case Files: Go slowly. Take your time processing. Write a story.
When I reflect on this story about George Sing's ten year battle to bring his sons Gee and Get to Saskatchewan set against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War where twenty million Chinese died, I'm reminded of another sorry tale in Canadian immigration history. A high-level immigration official, when asked how many Jews should be admitted to Canada during the Second World War, said, “None is too many.” This xenophobic quote has been ascribed to Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King and Immigration Director Frederick Blair and is probably neither but shows the attitude at the highest levels of government. Canadian Immigration, helmed by Blair, was deaf to the pleas of Canadians desperate to shelter their relatives living under the threat of war and too many died as a result of his "careful control" of Canada's borders.
I received my first Canadian Chinese Case file this summer. And it's everything I hoped (and feared) it would be. For some time my research into the records of the sixty years of the Chinese Immigration Act (1885-1947) has been hinting at something bigger. And that the currently available bits and pieces refer to an even bigger genealogical treasure in Chinese Case files.
There has never been a better time to get into Chinese genealogy. More and better records are being digitized, found, and released as privacy laws and resources permit. I'm excited to see what the future holds and I can't wait to teach more people how to find their own families. The fact that I, a non-Chinese speaker, can do what I do is testament to titanic changes in genealogy. As well, the story of Chinese settlement in Canada has all the hallmarks of a great novel: enormous sacrifices against overwhelming odds, generations of time, and oceans of distance. All it needs now is us to find and interpret the hidden stories and tell them to our kids.
In Finding Mr. Wong, Susan Crean (b. 1945; Toronto, Ontario, Canada) weaves together the histories of two significant men in her life: her grandfather Adam Gordon Campbell Crean, a second-generation Irishman from County Roscommon; and Gordon's cook-cum-consigliere (see below), Wong Dong Wong (黃宗旺) (pinyin: Huang Zong Wang) (1895-1970), a first-generation Chinese from Taishan County. Their… Continue reading The holiday read: “Finding Mr. Wong” by Susan Crean
It's Asian History Month and Asian genealogy has never been hotter. In this post I celebrate connecting to elders, gathering stories, courses I've taken, and courses that are coming.
The Toronto Sun interviews Lesley Anderson and I about our families in WWII
The story of Dorothy Gibson and her life as a journeyman printer, living through WWII and the Great Depression
For Womens History Month, I look at the hidden story of Lily's time in WWII.
One of the more startling revelations from the trip was learning about the Overseas Chinese - that's us. We folk of Chinese origin, we whose ancestors migrated from Sze Yup/Wuyi, China from about 1850-1949, we who are Chinese-something, be it Chinese Canadian, Chinese Hawaiian, Chinese Malay, Chinese South African, Chinese Thai, Chinese Singaporean and about 100… Continue reading Travels in China – the Overseas Chinese