Museum tells the story of families that helped build B.C.

September 26, 2020

By Times Colonist |

A new gallery at the Royal B.C. Museum seeks to shed light on an often-overlooked part of B.C.’s history.

A Tale of Two Families, a small pocket gallery on the museum’s main floor, shares the stories of a Chinese ­Canadian family and a French ­Canadian family whose roots in the ­province can be traced back to the gold rush era, beginning in 1858.

The museum’s curator of history, Tzu-I Chung, who developed the display, said the goal is to show British Columbians a more well-rounded history of the province that recognizes the role minority communities have played in building B.C. and the racism and discrimination some faced.

Chung said it can be difficult to trace the history of early immigrant families, which were often marginalized in ­mainstream accounts of the province’s history.

“The problem is the official account then leaves out a lot of different peoples who actually helped build Canada and the province in very important ways,” Chung said.

The stories of the Louie-Seto family and the Guichon family underscore the challenges they faced in B.C. during the Great Depression, the Chinese exclusion era and two world wars, offering a lesson in overcoming adversity that Chung said is particularly timely given the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought economic uncertainty and instability for many.

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