The following is the first installment of Barkerville CEO Judy Campbell’s travel blog from Guangdong Province. Share the adventures of Judy and Bill, as they take an exciting step forward for Barkerville’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China! Tomorrow, part two….
Barkerville Visits China
On November 10th a delegation from Barkerville Historic Town arrived in Guangshou, Guangdong Province, PRC. The delegation – Judy Campbell (CEO), Bill Quackenbush (Curator) and Lily Chow (former Barkerville Heritage Trust Director) – hopes to build links for research and communication with museums and academic institutions, and to promote Barkerville as a tourism destination for Chinese travelers.
Barkerville contains one of the most important collections of early Chinese buildings, artifacts and archival material (including photographs) in North America. The Chee Kung Tong building in Barkerville was recently designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
We joined the party of Canadian federal Senator, the Honourable Lillian (Quan) Dyck. Senator Dyck was returning to her ancestral village in China and she graciously allowed us to accompany her, her brother Winston, and son Nathan. The visit was hosted by the Overseas Exchange Association of Guangdong Province. Lily Chow is a Director of this association and worked very hard with her contacts in China to arrange both the Senator’s and Barkerville’s visit. Our hosts were amazing! They put us up in the best hotels and the local governments of Guangdong Province, Kaiping City and Jiangmen City, along with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, hosted formal dinners for us to meet and talk with local representatives. This allowed us to exchange gifts, and leave information about Barkerville. We had a special DVD on the dedication of the Chee Kung Tong building and Barkerville’s Autumn Moon Festival, as well as the Barkerville Site Guide and small vials of Barkerville gold as gifts. The visit to Senator Dyck’s ancestral village was very moving. Her father had left the village as a young man, however he was remembered in the village. When we arrived, there was a red banner with gold Chinese lettering across the road in front of the village gate which read: “Welcome Home Senator Lillian Dyck Quan.” When we got down from our bus, the Senator was greeted by village elders and lion dancers led her into the village. We even visited the house where her father had lived, which was now abandoned but contained the original brick stove, tables, benches, etc. – all remarkably similar to the artifacts we have in Barkerville. Later that afternoon we visited the Ruisli Diaolou, one of the better preserved Kaiping towers. I will write about that in my next installment….