Chung Chuck of Ladner BC
I wasn’t aware until my last year of high school that my great grandfather, Chung Chuck, played a prominent role in the history of BC civil rights especially among the Chinese community. Normally people would not associate a name like Areeb Yasir (formerly Jeffery Soo) with the Chinese ethnic group and many expect to meet someone of the Arab ethnic group so they are surprised when they meet me.
But yes I am the great grand son of the Delta Rifleman. And after doing some digging, I realize, I think I get a lot of my character in business and justice from him.
I was only 4 years old when he died, so I don’t recall if I met him. From the stories told to me, I only knew him as grandpa Chuck. I wish I could have met him, talked to him about his role in Canadian history. A history that I am so very proud of.
Here’s a little about him:
Chung Chuck (Chung Mor Ping)
Born: 1897 in China, Canton Province (now known as Guandong in Southern China).
Immigrated: 1909 to Ladner, Delta BC with his father (Chinese females were not permitted to enter Canada at that time).
Married: Mary (May Lee, 1907-1969) in 1940.
Sons: Napoleon and Winch
Daughters: Frances, Joyce and Vicki
I know that I have a cousin, Cherly Chung, but I haven’t been able to contact her yet. I’m hoping by making this blog post that someone from the Chung family tree will see and connect with me. I really do want to meet my extended family, and talk to them about their experiences and of course hear stories about great grandpa Chuck.
Chung Chuck and his father settled in Ladner where other Chinese migrants had moved to work in the farming and fishing industry. Like most ethnic groups who immigrated to Canada, they paid the head tax and the rights of ethnic groups were virtually non-existent. Members of the Chinese ethnic group and others faced discriminatory policies from the government and persecution among other colonial settlers of the time.
In 1929 Chung Chuck bought a piece of land at the end of Westham Street(formerly the old China town, now known as 48th Avenue and converted it into a Potato Farm.
The timeline is not exactly clear but apparently in the late 1920’s local business and government officials created a scheme to put Chinese farmers out of business. This meant that him and other farmers of the Chinese ethnic group were now bootlegging and breaking the law by farming and selling their produce. The situation become so tense that Caucasian hate groups formed a physical blockade on the Fraser Street bridge to stop him from taking his product to market, and he faced numerous assaults. The blockade was eventually broken and had him named as the “Delta Rifleman” when he rode shotgun across the bridge to bring his produce to the Vancouver markets.
Ultimately Chung Chuck and a fellow farmer named Mah Lai challenged the discriminatory laws against Chinese farmers in Supreme Court and won.
He built his first home at 4756 47A Street and this is where the famous building “Chung Chuck Potato Grower” was located.
Sometime in the mid 1940’s Chung Chuck built his family home by purchasing the “Maeda home” on Westham street and converted it into a family home and successful restaurant.
Eventually he built a riverfront Marina and Houseboat Moorage and provided services including water and electricity to less fortunate people. This eventually lead to a Police standoff with the City who threatened to cut off his water supply. It is reported that he was charged for pointing a rifle at police and city officials but those charges were eventually dropped when it was revealed he was simply holding a piece of wood.
Chung Chuck is known for contributing to the civil rights movement in BC and standing his ground against oppression and other hate groups and was able to succeed to despite organized movements to stop the settling, free movement and basic human rights of Chinese migrants and other ethnic groups.
I recently found out that CBC made a TV movie on his life. Which I haven’t seen but am trying to track down. I also will be making a trip to the Delta archives and City Hall to get any pictures or documents I can, so I can at least connect some pieces together for my children. I do not want them to not know where they come from, and who in our family had to go through this kind of hardship in order to make changes happen for all of us.
Like I said, I’m truly proud to be the great grand son of such an man. I feel connected to him because I feel he passed on his business sense and sense of civil justice on to me. He learned the law to defend himself and I have had to do the same for my businesses. He stood up against a system that was designed to hurt him, and I too have tried to challenge a system that tries place their racism and prejudice on me.
I do wonder, if he had met me, would he have been proud of me.
Chung Chuck’s old house in present day times on Union St in Vancouver (courtesy of Elwin Xie).