Video by Hawkins Media for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives
Informant: Dr. Chad Reimer, author of Chilliwack’s Chinatowns (Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, 2011)
Location: Chilliwack, British Columbia
Dr. Chad Reimer discusses what could have been if Chilliwack’s Chinatowns had not been destroyed by fire.
A title card is shown with the title “Chilliwack’s Chinatowns: What Could Have Been?” and a number of black and white photos of Chinese farm workers rushing by.
If those fires hadn’t had happened and if the Chinese, most of the Chinese, hadn’t left, they left largely for Vancouver, we would have one of the major, important, Chinatowns in British Columbia. But outside of Victoria and Vancouver, Chinatowns have not survived, largely. Nanaimo’s has not survived, for instance; the physical face of it. Why is that important? Well it’s important because it would remind us that even here in Chilliwack, where we’re one of the least ethnically diverse communities in British Columbia, that our history is not one of just British, and Scottish, and Canadian, and American.
A montage of black and white photos showing local Euro-Canadian and Chinese residents plays.
The story of Chilliwack’s Chinatowns show from the very start we have been a multiethnic town. The fact that the Chinese made such a crucial contribution to each step of the way; it would not have been forgotten if, if their community had survived to this time. And it would have made our community richer, because of it. We can’t bring the Chinatowns back, but by remembering the role that Chinese people have played in founding the community, the immigrant community here, by remembering that we can make Chilliwack richer. I mean it’s a richer understanding of our history; it’s more interesting just flat out. But it’s also, you know, makes us appreciate human stories that are different than ours; human stories that are different than what we usually think of. It improves the community just right across the board and makes us just a more interesting place; makes us a more welcoming place.