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The Story Of The Eng Family:
From Guangdong, to Newfoundland


In the center, David, youngest of the Eng family poses in front of an abandoned house with other Chinese children in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. 1962.

Having always lived in a remote village in the Toisan region of Guangdong province; Fung Hi Tom was a typical country girl of a farming family with the usual duties of housecleaning and crop management. However, things changed when she met and married Wing Nun Eng, an aspiring entrepreneur that sought to get away from the life of farming and move to Newfoundland.

Although not officially apart of Canada, the Dominion of Newfoundland which existed between 1907 to 1934 had its own identical Chinese Immigration act which restricted migration and imposed the infamous Chinese head tax. Despite the efforts to deter him, Wing Nun nevertheless persevered and came to Newfoundland alone in 1925, paying the heavy head tax and assuming the name of Nock Fong under the profession of a laundry worker. During his time, Wing Nun worked in menial jobs, saving and sending money back home to his wife Fung Hi.

The official Head Tax certificate, Indicating Wing Nun paid the fee to enter Newfoundland. Circa 1930. Click for larger version.

Isolated from mass Chinese culture, Wing Nun sought refuge with the small Chinese community that existed in Newfoundland, sharing experiences and dreams of bringing their families over. With the outbreak of World War II however, such ambitions and dreams would have to wait, as the island was virtually locked down for nearly a decade.

Unable to leave Newfoundland and unable to bring his family over, Wing Nun like many other Chinese Canadians before him, started a Chinese restaurant for increased income. While he himself did not cook, he managed the financial aspects of the business and provided a source of employment for those that could. Continue...

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Fung Hi Eng laughes and poses with a fellow restaurant owner. Circa 1965.
Wing Nun and his three children, May, Ginger and David on Christmas day. Circa 1965.
The Rose Gardens Chinese Restaurant operated by the Eng family in St. John Newfoundland. Circa 1970.

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