Welcome to A Culture Of Tastes 1930-1960:
Chinese Food, Tradition and Immigration In Canada


After the repeal of the 1923 Chinese immigration Act in 1947, Canada experienced a flow of Chinese immigration as a result of the post-war boom, forming small communities of Chinatown enclaves all throughout Canada. Faced with mass exclusion and loneliness, Chinese immigrants found solace and companionship knowing that other fellow Chinese were living nearby, and with it, the hope of finding familiar foods. For many Chinese, food was the embodiment of the homeland, their culture, traditions and heritage, and in many ways, their identity.

Lim Chum is a Chinese immigrant that came to the Philippines in 1953, which later moved to Vancouver in 1968 to be closer to her relatives. Distant cousin of Kim Fong Wong.

A Culture of Tastes: Chinese Canadian Food History Online seeks to explore a time in Canadian society where mass Chinese immigration was in its infancy, a time where the majority of laundry mats were run by Chinese or other East Asians. Where going into a Chinese restaurant meant cheap, quick and greasy food that could satisfy the average low income working-class man for lunch. A culture, in many regards forged upon the preparation, consumption and giving of food. Indeed, in every sense of the word, a culture of tastes, both literally and metaphorically.

Sweet and sour pork, one of the Eng's family's favourite dishes.

With the help of the internet and new media technologies, A Culture of Tastes hopes to increase awareness and stimulate interest in the history of early Chinese Canadians from the period of 1930 to 1960. Although considerable research has already been done on Chinese immigrants, little however has focused on the lives of Chinese restaurants owners in Canada.

That is why the focus of this project is on restaurateurs and the food they cook, to to help settle that lingering question: Where does that sweet and sour pork come from? What does "authentic" Chinese food mean? Does it even exist in today's world? With that in mind, relax and enjoy the project.

-Matt Eng
Lim Chum and her grandchildren in China. Circa 1950.
Zongzi, a traditional rice dumpling snack that is loaded with Chinese history and tradition.
Fung Hi Eng prepares to cook a meal in the kitchens of a Chinese restaurant. Circa 1965.

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