A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘chinese canadians

[URBAN NOTE] Fifteen urban links

  • It has been forty years since a train derailment that threatened to unleash toxic chemicals on Mississauga resulted in a remarkably successful mass evacuation. CBC reports.
  • There is a Vimy display in Kingston’s Communications and Electronics Museum. Global News reports.
  • It is unsettling that the Ontario city of Hamilton reports such a high levels of hate crimes. CBC reports.
  • Le Devoir shares a warning that inattention to language means that Longueuil could end up becoming as English/French bilingual as the West Island.
  • VICE reports on how the dying desert town of California City is hoping for a revival based on cannabis, here</u.
  • MacLean’s tells the story about how an encounter of koi with local otters in Vancouver reflects a human culture clash, too.
  • SCMP looks at how planners want to use big data to make Shenzhen a “smart socialist” city, here.
  • CityLab hosts an article by Andrew Kenney looking at the importance of an old map of Denver for he, a newcomer to the city.
  • These photos of the recent acqua alta in Venice are heartbreaking. CityLab has them.
  • JSTOR Daily tells the story of an ill-timed parade in 1918 Philadelphia that helped the Spanish flu spread throughout the city.
  • The LRB Blog looks at a corner of Berlin marked by the history of German Southwest Africa.
  • Guardian Cities shares a remarkable ambitious plan to remake Addis Ababa into a global city.
  • Durban, in South Africa, may offer lessons for other southern African metropolises. Guardian Cities reports.
  • The NYR Daily recently took a look at what happened to so completely gentrify the West Village of New York City.
  • Feargus O’Sullivan at CityLab takes a look at a new documentary, If New York Was Called Angouleme. What if the site of New York City was colonized by the French in the early 16th century?

[URBAN NOTE] Six Toronto links: Downsview Park, Christie Pits, Queen Video, public art, Joanna Luo

  • A formal inquest into the stage collapse that killed one person at a Radiohead concert at Downsview Park in 2012 is only now taking off. CBC reports.
  • The May opening of a new exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe’s work at the Olga Korper Gallery, reported by NOW Toronto, is very exciting.
  • blogTO notes a new graphic novel to be put out by Dirty Water Comics dealing with the anti-Semitic Christie Pits Riot of 1933.
  • Queen Video’s last location, in the Annex, is finally closing, with plenty of its titles now available to be bought before it shutters its doors at the end of April. Global News reports.
  • NOW Toronto reports on Museum II, a show part of the Myseum Intersections Festival looking at the impact of war and trauma on spaces.
  • Karon Liu, writing at the Toronto Star, explores with WeChat influencer Joanna Luo a whole universe of Chinese restaurants and social networking that was almost unknown to many Torontonians like myself.

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: Yonge and Eglinton, TD Centre, TTC, budget, Cantonese opera

  • Urban Toronto notes that Yonge and Eglinton is now being torn apart, again, for Eglinton Crosstown construction.
  • Chris Bateman writes at CityLab about the singular achievement of Mies Van der Rohe in designing the TD Centre.
  • blogTO reports that the TTC has abandoned the policy of collecting personal information from passengers accused of misconduct, an echo of police carding.
  • John Lorinc writes at Spacing about ways to reframe the language used in debating the budget of the City of Toronto.
  • Arlene Chan at Spacing tells the century-long history of Cantonese opera in Toronto.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven Montréal links: ice shove, Little Burgundy, development, population, architecture

  • CBC Montreal reports on the “Ice shove” that featured every winter in the port of Montréal in the 19th century.
  • This opinion piece in the Montreal Gazette remembers the expropriations which fatally undermined the substantially African-Canadian neighbourhood of Little Burgundy.
  • CityLab notes the controversy, aggravated by municipal politics, of the Royalmount megamall, in the Montréal enclave of the Town of Mount Royal.
  • A Québec Solidaire MNA’s criticism of Chinese investors in real estate has been criticized by Chinese-Canadians in Montréal as racist. CTV News reports.
  • La Presse notes that suburbanization proceeds in Montréal, as migration from the island of Montréal to off-island suburbs grows.
  • The glorious Insectarium of Montréal will be closed for two years, for a makeover. CBC reports.
  • Le Devoir considers the future of the Buckminister Fuller Biosphère on ile Sainte-Hélène, caught between falling funding and the lack of a clear mission for this structure.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Markham, Gimli, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Sydney

  • York Region reports on an anti-refugee protest in Markham that, reportedly, was dominated by Chinese-Canadian protesters.
  • Gimli’s 18th annual film festival has been a roaring success. Global News reports.
  • What has become of downtown Winnipeg after the city’s hockey team, the beloved Jets, finished their playoff run? Global News reports.
  • The voice of Seth Rogan will be the voice of Vancouver’s mass transit service, announcing stops and the like. CBC reports.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on how problems of growth surround–literally–Astrolabe Park, in Sydney.

[PHOTO] Sixteen photos of the Pacific Mall (@thepacificmall)

The Pacific Mall, on the north side of Steele’s Avenue in Markham just the other side of the street from Toronto proper, is one of the GTA’s best-known Chinese shopping malls. Twenty years old, it can still draw crowds late on a Friday evening.

Pacific Mall (1) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (2) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (3) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (4) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (5) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram #candy

Pacific Mall (6) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram #ginseng

Pacific Mall (7) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (8) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram #theluckybridge

Pacific Mall (9) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (10) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (11) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (12) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (13) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram #cats #manekineko

Pacific Mall (14) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram

Pacific Mall (15) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram #manekineko

Pacific Mall (16) #toronto #markham #pacificmall #shoppingmall #latergram #cats #manekineko

Written by Randy McDonald

January 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto’s changing Chinatown: who is it for?”

NOW Toronto‘s Michelle da Silva reports on how Toronto’s main Chinatown, along Spadina Avenue, has been changing with growing immigration and diversification among Chinese Canadians. Where is the neighbourhood heading?

When Craig Wong lived in Paris in his early 20s, he felt deeply homesick. He was there to cook for renowned chef Alain Ducasse after attending culinary school at Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon. On his days off, he’d wander the 13th arrondissement of the capital, where Chinatown is located.

The Scarborough-raised chef, after spending most of his waking hours cooking high-end French food, missed the flavours of home, the ones that reminded him of Toronto’s Chinatown: the cacophony of Chinese dialects weaving in and out of erhu music, the sight of roasted pork glistening in restaurant windows and the scent of dried mushrooms and tea leaves floating from herbal shops. Paris didn’t cut it.

“It was the shittiest Chinatown I’d ever seen,” he recalls, seated at a table at the recently opened Jackpot Chicken Rice, his trendy new casual restaurant on Spadina. “The way they treated Chinese food was really bad.”

As for many Canadians of Chinese heritage, many of Wong’s formative memories are deeply rooted in the stretch of Spadina around Dundas. He can point to the grocery stores and restaurants he used to frequent with family, and the house his dad lived in for a short time on Baldwin.

As a teen, Wong would skip school with Ivy Lam, his high school sweetheart and now wife, and end up at the “banh mi shop with the green sign” located, coincidentally, in exactly the same space that Jackpot now occupies.

In the 1980s, the Chinatown at Spadina and Dundas looked remarkably similar to today’s. Its residents, however, were different – mostly Taishanese people from China’s southern Guangdong province, to which Wong traces his family lineage. Today the dominant Chinese population is Fujianese. Toronto’s other Chinatown at Broadview and Gerrard had, and has, a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese. Both districts grew out of the Chinatown that ran along Elizabeth Street in the Ward, a so-called slum populated by immigrants including European Jews, Italians, African-Americans and Chinese settlers following the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2017 at 8:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Kerry Gold in The Globe and Mail on the decline of Chinatown in Vancouver

In The Globe and Mail, Kelly Gold’s article looks at the problems faced by Vancouver’s Chinatown in the face of rapid development.

Imagine if Chinatown no longer existed. Those shops stacked high with winter melon like mini Zeppelins, heaps of dried mussels and cucumbers, butcher shops with crinkly Chinese sausage dangling from green string and bright pink BBQ pork, ginseng, tea – all of it gone, replaced with chain stores and high-end supermarkets.

There’s already a fancy new supermarket on Main Street where, under the watchful eye of a concierge at the door, you can buy $10 sandwiches at the espresso bar. At Gore and Pender is the giant mural depicting Tao scholar Lao Tzu. Now, a residential building under construction completely obstructs it.

Gentrification isn’t just nibbling at Chinatown’s edges. Thanks to rezoning changes, it’s taking major bites out of the neighbourhood. There are two major mixed-use condo rezonings at Main Street and Keefer that are massive, bulky and featureless, like something you’d see on Robson Street. Instead of Chinatown’s packed sidewalks that force you to dodge elderly people with their wheeled shopping bags – part of the experience – this stretch of bright wide sidewalk speaks of new money.

Class inversion is happening in cities throughout North America. Urban cores used to be the domain of low-income groups, while the wealthier demographic lived in the suburbs. In recent years, wealthier groups are choosing urban living and pushing low-income groups to the outskirts, or further.

“You have to ask, ‘Where is this coming from? Who are you serving?’” asks Kevin Huang, executive director of the Hua Foundation, a non-profit for young Chinese-Canadians. Mr. Huang is also committed to supporting the people who form the tight-knit Chinatown community, and who are now under threat of displacement.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 18, 2016 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Douglas Quan in the National Post on the death of the Chinatowns of Canada

Douglas Quan’s extended photo essay at the National Post takes a look at the different trends, including gentrification and suburbanization, that are threatening the survival of the traditional Chinatowns of Canada. The particular attention to Toronto’s different Chinatowns is something I appreciated, but the article has a national focus.

As dusk fell over Chinatown recently, a line formed outside the entrance to Kissa Tanto, a stylish Japanese-Italian eatery named Canada’s best new restaurant this year by enRoute magazine. A trio suited up for the downtown office towers nearby sipped cocktails over candlelight at the Juniper Kitchen and Bar. Around the corner, twentysomethings seated at share tables gorged on vegan pizzas at Virtuous Pie.

Hip new restaurants and glass and concrete condos in Canada’s largest Chinatown have, some say, injected a youthful vigour into an area that has been stagnant for years.

Gone are the days when produce and seafood stores spilled their wares onto busy sidewalks and shoppers haggled with shopkeepers to “peng di la!” — drop their prices even more.

Today, only three barbecue meat shops and a handful of fishmongers and produce stores remain. One of the largest Chinese grocers, the cavernous Chinatown Supermarket, sits empty — save for an industrial sink at the back and two fluorescent tube-lights that still flicker in one corner.

Are we witnessing the death of Chinatown, not only in Vancouver, but across North America?

A report in 2013 by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund warned that Chinatowns in Boston, Philadelphia and New York were “on the verge of disappearing” due to “accelerated gentrification.”

Calgary’s city council recently gave tentative approval to an application to build a 27-storey tower in the heart of that city’s Chinatown that members of the Chinese community say will obliterate the small-retail charm of the neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, the “trendification” of Toronto’s main Chinatown continues, and the complexion of the city’s Chinatown East is changing as many Chinese business owners flee to the suburbs.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 18, 2016 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “What Chinatown used to look like in Toronto”

blogTO’s Derek Flack has another photo essay up, this one looking at Toronto’s many and changing Chinatowns over the decades.

Toronto’s Chinese population was tiny prior to the early 20th century, with roughly 200 residents scattered in various areas, including clusters on Queen East near George St. and Queen West near York St. The burgeoning Queen East chinatown was short-lived, but the one to the west of Yonge would eventually migrate north towards Dundas St. and become the city’s first major Chinese community.

By 1910, the Chinese population in Toronto was creeping towards 1,000, and storefronts along Elizabeth St. started to bear Chinese-language signage. This was the same period when Chinese restaurants first opened in the city. The laundries still existed, but the community’s business interests diversified as it grew.

Over the next 40 years, the Elizabeth St. Chinatown was a robust and thriving community, housing both the businesses and residences of the city’s Chinese population, which was now growing rapidly. It’s quite possible that this Chinatown would have remained the primary hub of Chinese culture in Toronto had it not been for the arrival of New City Hall, which expropriated many businesses and knocked out whole streets of the old Ward neighbourhood.

Despite the fact that so many Chinese buisinesses were razed for the construction of Nathan Phillips Square, remaining area residents successfully fought city plans to relocate the community outright. Rising real estate prices, however, led to the gradual shift of Chinese businesses west along Dundas St., which gave rise to one of the main chinatowns that we know today.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 6, 2016 at 9:00 pm