Reaching Across Time
The railroad has a powerful grip on the Canadian imagination.
Late one night during the mid-1970s, in Vancouver's Chinatown, a bunch of us got the idea that we needed our own railroad photograph.
This may have been during the first Chinese-Canadian Conference on Immigration, around 1975. The conference poster used an image of Chinese railroad workers.
Early next morning, we headed to the waterfront, where the railroads converged. Chinatown guru Jim Wong-Chu took the photo, and I wrote a poem. Among the "young people" who gathered that morning were today's filmmaker Karin Lee, two-term Vancouver City Councillor George Chow, jazz singer Shannon Gunn and her bass-player brother Sean, and Gordon Mark, a stalwart of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C.
Here's my poem.
the light is
it was 5:30
the idea clicked
railyard, grey morning, third generation
pickaxe, history, gloves, remembrance
it was 5:30
the boxcar is a monument
to all our heroes.
Below is the historic photo (Vancouver Public Library 1773) , Jim with the photo at Centre A, 2014 (photo by M Takasaki), and Jim's photo.
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