Tong Yan Gaai

Over the last five years, Morris Lum has been documenting Chinatown communities across Canada, drawing attention to the functionality of these structural enclaves and exploring the generational context of how “Chinese” identity is expressed within them. Armed with a large-format camera, he often revisits these spaces to record the rapid architectural and economic changes that these communities have been facing. His images provide visual records of these cityscapes, and highlight historical and contemporary cultural fixtures such as small mom-and-pop shops, Chinese restaurants, and community organizations.

Vancouver’s Chinatown, the largest in Canada, is the subject of Tong Yan Gaai (Cantonese for “Chinatown”). It is a community experiencing constant, fast-paced development—many long-standing small businesses have recently closed and, in many cases, have been taken over by condo developers and trendy westernized businesses. This exhibition provides a glimpse into the progress and struggle of these communities to preserve their heritage.

Tong Yan Gaai is dedicated to Herbert Thomas Aquinas Lim (Lum Buck Chee) and George Fletcher Hawken. The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.