Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lack of Knowledge of Local History! It Burns!

There are days when I don't know why I read the "Venting" column in the Journal. Generally, it serves as a forum for the city's knuckle-draggers to display their ignorance, passive-aggressive tendencies, and horror at the existence of people with interests different from theirs. And every so often the dumbassery gets taken to new and impressive lows.

Last weekend saw the annual dragon boat races on the river here in town. In the wake (hah!) of that, one Venter revealed its displeasure at the entire concept:

Instead of dragon boat races, why don't Edmontonians celebrate our own history and culture and use voyageur canoes?*

To be fair, the Venter has, like the proverbial blind pig, found a truffle; a voyageur canoe race on the river is an awesome idea. That said...

For those of you who do not know this, in the late 19th century something like 17,000 Chinese labourers came to Canada to work on the Western expansion of the railway. Sir John A. MacDonald is reported to have said that without them there would have been no railway, and as the writer of that link notes, without the railway there might not have been a country. Early Chinese Canadians were not treated well (just google "head tax"), especially in economically tough times.

The first Chinese Edmontonian seems to have been a fellow named Chung Gee, who arrived in 1892, the very year that Edmonton officially became a town. His reasons for coming here are not known for certain, but there had been anti-Chinese rioting in Calgary, and it is possibly that he was fleeing from that. Whatever, the case, the Chinese population of Edmonton increased steadily from that beginning. The city's Chinatown, in roughly its current location, was firmly established by 1911, when the Chinese population of the city numbered in the hundreds.

So, just in case anyone is still missing the point, the dragon boat races in Edmonton do in fact have a very strong historical and cultural basis. And some people need to do a little bit of research before beaking off to the newspaper.

*The link will probably die in a couple of days, since the Journal does not seem to archive the Vents. Here is the hard-copy citation:

Anonymous. "Venting." Edmonton Journal. August 25, 2009, p. A14.


Crimson Rambler said...

entirely excellent, Chunklets!

Stealthy Dachshund said...

We should have a race of these.

I gather there is such a race on Lake Winnipeg, but the river would make it a REAL competition.