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Visit from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of hosting students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School for a tour of the Chung Collection. These students are in International Baccalaureate Mandarin 11 and the visit was arranged by their student teacher, UBC Faculty of Education student Erica Huang.

The students were divided into two groups: each group had a tour of the Chung Collection, during which they practiced their Mandarin by completing a worksheet about each case in the collection. They also had a Mandarin language session with our colleagues from the Chinese Canadian Stories project.  The students examined letters written in the Toishanese dialect (facsimiles made from the Yip Sang digital collection of letters, held by the City of Vancouver Archives) and worked with CCS researcher Joanne Poon and archivist Lilly Li to interpret them. Reading these letters is particularly challenging, even for Mandarin readers, because of the older style of handwriting and the specific nature of the dialect.  In the photograph below, there are three Churchill students working with Joanne on interpreting one of the letters. If you are interested in Joanne’s research with the Chinese Canadian Stories project, you can read her research diaries on their website.

Thank you to our friends at Chinese Canadian Stories and to the students and teachers at Churchill for coming to visit us!

Photos are courtesy of the Chinese Canadian Stories project.

Archival conundrum: unopened mail

We recently had our friends from Chinese Canadian Stories (CCS) join us to host high school students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School for a tour of the Chung Collection and a Mandarin language lesson.  Afterward, the researchers from CCS mentioned they had found an unopened letter in the Wah Shun Company fonds– could we […]

Under construction

Please excuse us while there is a bit of a mess in the Chung Collection exhibition room- and stay tuned in the near future for exciting new additions to our exhibition space!










The R. Mathison Printing Collection

As extensive as the Chung Collection is, there are a number of related collections here at UBC that are complimentary- this is part of what makes the Chung Collection such a great fit here at UBC. One modest but important example is the R. Mathison Printing Collection. Acquired in 2009 by the Rare Books and Special Collections division of the library, these 54 ephemeral items were all printed by R. Mathison Jr., a job printer who operated in Vancouver from ca. 1886 to 1890.

There are many examples of early B.C. printing in the Chung Collection as well, but a few items in the R. Mathison Printing Collection are also relevant to the study of Chinese-Canadian history. For example the item to the left is an advertising card for a Chinese business called the Hop Yick Drug Store.  In addition to selling tea, sugar, rice, nut oil and Chinese merchandise, it advertises that it is “prepared to contract for the supply of first-class Chinese labor to any extent on public or private works, at lowest current rates.”

There are also two examples of laundry advertising cards: one Chinese (Tong Yuen Laundry) and one white (Pacific Steam Laundry). Note that the Pacific Steam Laundry advertises that they employ white labour only:

Both laundries were on Dupont Street (now Pender Street)- could they have been each other’s competition?

The R. Mathison Printing collection is completely digitized and is available through UBC Library Digital Collections and Services.


The most important question on the 2011 census

Always wanted to “go down in the history books” but not sure how? It’s easy- answer the 2011 Canadian census, and answer YES to question 10.  The census is a rich source of information for future researchers to understand ordinary Canadians. But they will only be able to see your data if you answer YES […]

Student research on display

We are very excited to be displaying posters created by students in the Coordinated Arts Program, just outside the Chung Collection exhibition room. These students were part of the Law and Society stream of CAP and came to the Chung Collection in January for a tour and an introduction to archival research. The students were all assigned to choose an item from the Chung Collection and use it to inspire a poster presentation, an essay or a video.  They presented their posters at the CAP conference in April, where several of the students met Dr. Chung who came to see their posters. We have selected a number of the posters for this display and the variety of topics is very interesting:

  • Chinese-Aboriginal relations in B.C.
  • The history of drug law enforcement in Vancouver
  • Civil rights history in Canada
  • Funeral and death rites in different cultures
  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Chinese in B.C. during the gold rush
  • Relationship between the Japanese and Chinese communities
  • The history of interracial marriage


Congratulations to the CAP students for their very interesting research! We hope that you found your experience using the Chung Collection to be a rewarding one.

We will keep the posters on display in the reading room until May 20th. They can be viewed during our regular summer opening hours (Monday to Friday, 9-5).

We make mistakes; you can help us fix them!

The cataloguing of the Chung Collection has been done over a number of years, by a number of very hard working professionals and student assistants. However, mistakes do happen, and while we endeavor to make the records as accurate as we can, we are always happy to hear from an expert who can help us make them even better. Here are a couple of recent examples:

We had thought that this photograph was of Chin Shee, one of Yip Sang’s wives who moved to be with him here in Vancouver, but a researcher informed us that it is actually Wong Shee, another of Yip Sang’s wives. The researcher was able to confirm this with descendants of Yip Sang. If you see a correction like this that needs to be made, you can contact us at

Another way to communicate with us is through the digital collections, where you can leave a comment about each item. For example, this photograph of the Kuo Min Tang was recently commented on by a researcher, pointing out that we had the photographer wrong- we had catalogued it as W.H. Wand, which the researcher very logically thought should have actually been the well-known Chinese Canadian photographer C.B. Wand. On closer inspection of the photograph, the typo turned out to be in the last name, not the first- the photographer is William Henry Wills, who was active in the Kelowna area in the first quarter of the 1900’s.

Thanks to our researchers for their help and expertise, and if you have information about an item in the Chung Collection, we’re always happy to hear from you!