British Columbia

Royal BC Museum opens new exhibit... in a Chinese metro station

The Royal BC Museum has a new exhibit that explores the history of Chinese immigration to B.C. And it opened in an unusual spot — a metro station in an area of China where many people emigrated from during the B.C. gold rush.

'Guangzhou to British Columbia: The Chinese Canadian Experience, 1858 to 1958' opened Wednesday

This photo from the Metro Station exhibit is of the masonic procession at Yates and Douglas Streets, Victoria, about 1940. (Royal BC Museum)

The Royal BC Museum opened a travelling "pop-up museum" at a major metro station in Guangzhou, China on Wednesday.

The photography exhibition, Guangzhou to British Columbia: The Chinese Canadian Experience, 1858 to 1958, depicts how B.C.'s gold rush sparked a connection between Guangzhou and B.C.

That relationship encompassed "the challenges of migration, the heartbreak and successes of settlement and the overcoming of discrimination by the Chinese in B.C.," the museum said in a press release.

"The photos are stopping people in their tracks," Don Bourdon, the museum's curator of images and paintings told All Points West host Robyn Burns. "They actually stop and look at these photographs. So we're very pleased. It's doing just exactly what we intended."

Yuexiu Park is one of the Guangzhou Metro Corp.'s central stations, and the museum says more than one million people go through it every month.

The Museum's metro exhibition is a precursor to a larger exhibition, Gold Mountain Dream! Bravely Venture into the Fraser River Valley, at the Guangdong Museum of Chinese Nationals Residing Abroad, which opens Nov. 5.

Bourdon hopes it will give Chinese commuters a glimpse into the historic relationship between Guangzhou and B.C.

For example, he says that before 1947, 99 per cent of Chinese immigrants to B.C. came from this part of China.

"There was discrimination, of course, there was legislation that prevented people from bringing families here," he said. "But at the same time, we have photographs that are interesting, and you'd just love to know, what were the conversations going on in a cabin, say, on Williams Creek, where there are European miners alongside Chinese sharing a meal and everyone's using chopsticks?"

The "pop-up museum" will be open at Yuexiu Park until Nov. 28.

To hear the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Royal BC Museum opens new exhibit in an unusual location


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