Yi Fao: Speaking Through Memory

A History of New Westminister's Chinese Community 1858-1980

By (author): Patricia Owen, Jim Wolf
ISBN 9781894974400
Softcover | Publication Date: August 5, 2008
Book Dimensions: 8.25 in x 10 in
144 Pages
$19.95 CAD

About the Book

Bravo to the New Westminster Museum and Archives for their groundbreaking research into the history of Yi Fao, and for their understanding that these records of the past will remain as a living contribution to enrich and strengthen our collective heritage. —Wayson Choy

This is the fascinating history of Yi Fao—the Chinese name for New Westminster, BC—told through photographs and personal recollections. Yi Fao means “second port,” a reference to the city’s place as the second point of entry to the province after Victoria.

The book offers an historical overview of Yi Fao that places in a broader context the stories of four key families of settlers: Law, Lee, Quan and Shiu. In each family’s story, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents and in-laws recount their memories. Their reminiscences offer a history not just of facts and dates, but of experiences and emotions. Compelling and poignant, this intimate glimpse into daily life and the city’s old Chinatown reveals a story of struggle, adventure and achievement.

About the Author(s)

Patricia Owen completed a master's degree in the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the University of East Anglia in 2005. She took a lead role in the New Westminster Museum and Archives' project to research the city's Chinese-Canadian community. Since then she has held research and curatorial positions at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, the Surrey Art Gallery, and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. She is currently a project manager at 3DS - Three Dimensional Services, in Burnaby, BC.


"Welcome counterpart to the tendency for Chinese British Columbians to appear, if at all, only anecdotally [in local histories]." —Jean Barman, BC Studies