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Chow Dong Hoy: Portraits from the Frontier

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“My mother gave me this name. Chow Dong Hoy. I was born July 2, 1883 in the south of China in a village called Sui Soon Lee. My father was a very poor man.”

Enter the world of Chow Dong Hoy, a photographer with a rare vision of life in a frontier culture. C. D. Hoy moved from China to British Columbia at the turn of the century. This documentary chronicles his extraordinary life from Vancouver in 1902 to the gold mines, forts and ranches of early British Columbia. We follow the footsteps of this impoverished Pioneer as he seeks to establish a life for himself in the wilderness of the Cariboo...Canada’s wild west. Trying his hand at many a trade, C. D. Hoy finally establishes himself as the town photographer.

By 1912 his clientele included many of the First Nations population of the Cariboo as well as Chinese and Caucasian settlers. At a time when other ethnographic and commercial photographers were actively creating the myth of the “Noble Savage” and the “Exotic Oriental”, C.D. Hoy was capturing the daily lives of his subjects. Drawing on a historic photo archive of over 1400 images, rare footage of Canada at the turn of the century, the first-hand memoirs of Hoy himself and commentary of present day historians, archivists and artists, this film richly and warmly portrays a slice of history from a new perspective. These images provide a rare glimpse into a community that endured many hardships and serve as evidence of the many First Nations and Chinese settlers who struggled to survive.

View a printer friendly version of this page...Copyright Date: 2002 Closed Captioned Length: 49 minutes Library Audience:
  • Sino-Canadian History
  • British Columbia - History
  • Northern History
  • School Audience:
  • Grades 8 - 12
  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Subjects:
  • Multicultural Studies
  • Canadian Studies
  • Formats Available:
  • VHS Tape
  • DVD