Barkerville Delegates Make Historic Trek to China

Representatives from western North America’s largest living history museum have made an historic trip to Guangdong Province, China.

Judy Campbell, CEO of Barkerville Historic Town, and William G. Quackenbush, Barkerville’s Curator, joined Barkerville Heritage Trust liaison Lily Chow and a Canadian federal Senator in Guangzhou last week, marking the start of an eleven day research expedition aimed at better understanding Barkerville’s beautifully preserved Chinatown and its extensive collection of archival records, photographs, and artifacts – many of which were brought by early Chinese immigrants from Guangdong province.

The trip – which commenced November 10th – was jointly arranged by the Barkerville Heritage Trust, Barkerville’s operating and managing partner, and the Overseas Exchange Association of Guangdong Province, in order to provide Barkerville’s management team opportunities to meet with Chinese tourism officials, government policy makers, and academic and museum professionals.

“We were honoured that a delegation from the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Affairs office visited Barkerville in 2006,” said Ms. Campbell, Barkerville’s Chief Executive Officer. “And this past summer the Chinese Consular General in Vancouver, Mr. Liang Shugen, helped us celebrate the designation of Barkerville’s Chee Kung Tong building as a National Historic Site of Canada – an event that has already increased Chinese interest in Northern British Columbia and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast regions.”

“If we are to continue to build a meaningful relationship with China that will ultimately result in a cultural exchange and increased tourism to British Columbia, then it is important for us to return the visit we received from these Chinese officials in 2006, and to acknowledge the continued attention paid to us by the Chinese Consular General,” Campbell concluded.

On November 11th, Ms. Campbell and Mr. Quackenbush traveled with Mrs. Lily Chow and Senator Lillian (Quan) Dyck to the Kiaping area of China’s Guangdong Province, to visit the Senator’s ancestral village. Senator Dyck’s father – Yok Lee Quan – immigrated to Canada from Canton, China in 1912.

The group then moved to Jiangmen on November 13th, where Ms. Campbell and Mr. Quackenbush made a joint presentation to the Overseas Chinese Research Centre at Wuyi University. Selia Tan Jinhua, a researcher from Wuyi University who traveled to Barkerville this summer for the Chee Kung Tong dedication ceremony, later brought the Canadian delegates to the home villages of some of Barkerville’s most prominent Chinese community members. The party returned to Guangzhou on November 15th to meet with the Director of the Guangdong Museum and other tourism officials.

This week Ms. Campbell and Mr. Quackenbush travel to Tianhe, Guangzhou to meet with the Managing Director of British Columbia’s Trade and Investment Representative Office for South China before heading home to Barkerville on November 21st.