Paul Yee’s Chinatown
‘a solitary seagull
on silent wings
by its insistent caw
through rivers of air
over cold ocean
and so we arrive..’
So starts the beautiful poem, Arrivals, written in 2011 by author, Paul Yee, to premiere alongside Voices from Gold Mountain, a composition by Jin Zhang. Yee’s Arrivals was performed in Mandarin and English at a tribute to Chinese-Canadian pioneers. The music came courtesy of the Vancouver Youth Orchestra.
Paul Yee’s long history of literary success includes the 1996 Governor General’s Award for English Children’s Literature for his Ghost Train and the 2012 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People from Writers’ Trust of Canada.
Historian Yee, who grew up in Vancouver’s Chinatown, is also a talented photographer who worked at the City of Vancouver Archives, from 1979-87 before moving to the Archives of Ontario, from 1988-91.
With funding from the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, Yee’s photos of our city were digitized in 2017 and 2018. Of the 3700 available, here are a few striking images from his work in the Seventies and Eighties.
200 block East Pender Street, looking west. 1979
Wing Hing Dry Goods owner Lin Bei-lian standing at the front entrance to his shop. 1986
Exterior of Wing Hing Dry Goods, unit block East Pender
Television set in the work area of Wing Hing Dry Goods
Work area of Wing Hing Dry Goods
Kam Yen Jan sausage makers storefront at 223 Keefer Street
200 block East Hastings Street
Written by Elizabeth Newton