Mid-Autumn Moon Festival celebrates 150 years of Chinese culture in Barkerville

Barkerville’s annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is getting bigger this year in order to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the establishment of the National Historic Site of Canada’s Chinatown.  To mark this special anniversary, the festival has been extended from one day to two – Saturday, August 24th and Sunday, August 25th.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festivals have been held in Asia for more than 1,000 years. This important Chinese holiday is equivalent to Thanksgiving in the western world, and celebrates the abundance of the harvest with traditional music, martial arts displays, lantern building and bean curd or lotus seed moon cakes, shaped to reflect the harvest moon.

“Many people associate the arrival of the Chinese in Canada with the building of the railway,” said Dr. Ying Ying Chen, the archaeologist who runs Barkerville’s Historic Chinatown interpretation program. “This important anniversary in Barkerville demonstrates how these immigrants came to our country much earlier than that, and how they made significant contributions to the economy of British Columbia before it was a part of Canada.”

The Chee Kung Tong, the oldest ethnic Chinese structure in Canada, was erected by the Chinese Freemasons in Barkerville to help Chinese miners adjust to the realities of living so far from home, and to act as a hospice of sorts for those community members in need.  The Chee Kung Tong was itself declared a National Historic Site in 2009.

“This makes Barkerville unique, in that we are simultaneously a Provincial Historic Site and a National Historic Site with a second National Historic Site within it,” said James Douglas, Barkerville’s Manager of Visitor Experiences.

On Saturday there will be lantern making, games, tours, music, Chinese school, and lion dances. In the evening there will be two seatings for a special celebratory banquet at the Lung Duck Tong restaurant, more spectacular entertainment, and a lantern parade followed by fireworks.  On Sunday, in addition to more games, tours and lion dancing, there will be a series of short academic presentations related to the contribution of Chinese pioneers in British Columbia at Barkerville’s Visitor Reception Centre.

The 2013 Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is made possible in part by Community Sponsor McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.  For more information about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, or any other Barkerville event, please visit www.barkerville.ca/special_events.htm.  For reservations to Saturday’s Lung Duck Tong Banquet call 1-250-994-3458.

Chee Kung Tong Dedication 2 - photo by Thomas Drasdauskis