One of the most fascinating photography collections I studied during my art history years at UBC was the Faith Moosang-curated exhibit of the photos of C.D. Hoy, a Chinese-born British Columbia pioneer who made a living as a photographer based out of Quesnel along the Cariboo Wagon Road.
C.D. Hoy’s photos of Caucasian, First Nations, and Chinese pioneers in Quesnel and Barkerville between 1909 and 1920 shed light onto life in the interior of BC at a time when nobody else was documenting it. And what we discover is that life was less segregated than we perhaps may have originally anticipated.
When I discovered that C.D. Hoy’s photos were being featured at Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in an exhibit called Who Am I?. I was absolutely ecstatic. Having not only studied these photos, but having also seen them in person at the McCord Museum in Montreal, I know firsthand how amazing they are. I highly encourage anyone interested in BC history to check out this exhibit while it’s in Vancouver. It’s only here until January 14, 2013.
Here’s the quicky history of C.D. Hoy from a fan on Flickr,
“CD Hoy emigrated to Canada from China at the age of 17 in 1905. In 1909, after a season of limited success as a miner in Barkerville, Hoy took up a camera and began to take portraits of other Chinese miners who lived and worked in the town. These portraits were printed onto postcard stock and sent back to the sitters’ families in China as a reassuring gesture of survival and possible success in the New World. From these beginnings, Hoy’s clientele grew to include the Carrier and Chilcotin natives who lived in the interior as well as the Caucasian people who had migrated to the area.”
Curious? Here’s the exhibit’s description via the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden’s website.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Barkerville Historic Town are pleased to present Who Am I? – Bridging the Pacific: from Guangdong to Barkerville and back, an exhibition that examines the history of the Chinese immigrants who came to Barkerville, British Columbia in the late 19th and early 20th century to mine and carry out business. The exhibition features historical archival photographs and portraits by Chow Dong Hoy, a Chinese-Canadian photographer known for his startling, evocative documentation of First Nations, Chinese, and Caucasian subjects. These photos, along with dioramas, an interactive computer kiosk and bilingual book, depict the lives of the Chinese immigrants in the Cariboo region during the Gold Rush.
Some of these Chinese immigrants returned home to China and some made new homes in Canada. Who am I? will explore these people’s lives, aspirations and work. It will also ask the question: Who were they as individuals? History has treated them as a group and few details, including their names, have been recorded. This exhibition intends to reach out to these people’s descendants and gather stories to identify who they were, where they came from and went to, how they lived and when. By doing this, it is hoped that a greater understanding of the Chinese in the Cariboo will be achieved.
The exhibition will be on view at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden from December 11, 2012 to January 14, 2013 inside the Hall of One Hundred Rivers.
Photo source: Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver