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MRS FONG

canadian days


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MRS FONG

CANADIAN DAYS Reminiscences Of A Chinese Immigrant Presented By Her Daughter Cairine

Carnets of Rhinoceros jr April 2008 5


My father, John Fong, came to Canada from China with his adoptive parents in the late 1940’s for a better life. Much later he tried to look for information about his natural parents in Southern China but did not find any.

When my father was in his midtwenties he went to Hong Kong to find a wife. Within a short time he met my mother, married her and brought her back to Canada.

My father as a teenager, Canada, circa 1949. Passport picture. My mother had pictures taken at a professional studio for her own personal enjoyment, Hong Kong, 1955. 6


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Wedding, Hong Kong, 1958.

Departure from Hong Kong, 1958. 8


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Most immigrants at that time had very little formal education. My grandfather opened a restaurant that served both Chinese and western cuisine in the city of Hull in the province of Quebec. My mother recalls that only two professions were allowed to Chinese immigrants : laundry and restaurants. My Grandfather and his daughter behind his restaurant.

My father and cousin in front of my Grandfather's restaurant in Hull, Quebec, 1950's (The cousin came alone; my father was his only relative) 10


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My parents lived with my grandparents and their younger daughter in the apartment above the restaurant. My mother discovers Canada, 1958

My parents and my young aunt, 1958 12


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My mother and cousin touring Ottawa, 1958 14


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My mother in Ottowa, 1958 16


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Between 1959 and 1963 my mother gave birth to 5 children.

My parents and brother at the beach, 1960

My mother and brother, 1960 18


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Our small family moved when my father opened his own restaurant in the east end of Ottawa in 1960. Many of the Chinese immigrants lived in the downtown area close to each other, however, my father preferred to reside in the suburbs of Ottawa.

Mother and brother, with aunt, cousin and relative, Ottawa, 1959 20


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We moved often and for my brothers and I it was always difficult attending new schools especially in the early years as we were visible minorities. For many school children we were the first “foreigners� they have met although my brothers and I were born in Canada. I did not learn to speak English until attending kindergarten at the age of 5 as the spoken language at home was Cantonese.

In front of our house, 1964 22


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My first best friend and me at a sleepover at my house, 1965

My brother, aunt and the babysitter, Hull, Quebec, 1959 24


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With my brothers and our snowman, 1966 26


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Family road trip, 1969 28


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Posing with a dinosaur on a road trip to the east coast of Canada, 1971

With my mother at the Parliament Hills, Ottawa, 1969 30


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Swimming with my swan, 1971

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My brothers and myself, Ottawa, 1964 34


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My parents and brother in front of the restaurant sign, 1960 36


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My father cooking in his first restaurant, Ottawa, 1959

My mother among the booths, 1960 38


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Our new chinese take out restaurant, Ottawa, 1964 40


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Mother and brother with Sister Nina at the Chinese Centre, 1965

My mother became acquainted with the Chinese Centre in Ottawa, an informal organization operated by Catholic nuns. The nuns kindly assisted the immigrants to acclimatize to the Canadian culture. Many Chinese immigrants and university Visa students gathered at the Chinese Centre for social functions. It was a place to meet people from similar backgrounds and to feel less homesick.

My brother and I outside the Chinese Centre, 1965 42


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My mother and my brother's godmother at the Chinese Centre, 1959

Chinese immigrants gathering at the Chinese Centre, 1965 44


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Over the years as multiculturalism took hold it was easier to assimilate into the Canadian community. By the 1970’s most urban cities in Canada have a Chinese population. The bigger, cosmopolitan cities have a Chinatown where authentic Chinese cuisine and imported goods can be obtained.

My cousin joined the Canadian Armed Forces, becoming one of very first Chinese Canadians in the military, 1965 46


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My brother as ringbearer, me as flowergirl at my piano teacher’s wedding, Ottawa, 1968

It was my mother’s desire that I learn to play the piano, 1967 48


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This notebook was printed on April 1st, 2009 the 7th anniversary of the foundation of the Academia dei Venti in Ventotene AVAILABLE AT THE  VISUAL INDEPENDENCE BOOK SHOP http://www.visualindependence.com/canadian-days.php

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CANADIAN DAYS  

Reminiscences Of A Chinese Immigrant Presented By Her Daughter Cairine

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