At the moment — Spring 2013 — I am writing one book and researching another. I’ve created a site for the project about Toronto at www.whatistoronto.ca where I post material that turns up in my research — photographs, poems, and conversations. Photography by Arthur Goss and Michel Lambeth; poetry by Lillian Allen and Archer Pechawis; comments by Vera Frenkel, Yvette Nolan and Michael Redhill.) More to come.
Digging to China is the story of W.D. Wong, a head tax payer who came to Canada in 1911 and died in Toronto in 1970. A narrative that has grown to include my search for him forty years after his death. The journey was possible because of the people in Canada and China who willingly helped me over the barriers of language and culture. Mr. Wong was hired as domestic cook by my Irish grandfather in 1928, and remained in the job until he retired to Chinatown in 1965.
Below are several articles about my search. One I wrote in 2010 following my trip to Mr. Wong’s village in China. An article by Shan Qiao published in Sing Tao daily caught the interest of the Bureau of Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs in Taishan and I received an email from an officer named Cherie offering assistance. “Looking for Wong Dong Wong” was the article I promised to write for the county magazine about our visit to the village. The director had wanted to send in TV cameras, but settled for an article instead! Another was for the Toronto Star in 2011. When the tri-annual convention of the Wongs’ Associations was held in the summer of that year, Chuck C.C. Wong was invited to edit the Convention Magazine. He suggested I write something about my first visit to the Wong Kung Har Wun Sun in Toronto, so I did.