Author Alison Marshall, whose latest publication, Cultivating Connections, looks at the history of Chinese settlers in Canada, is coming to the Cumberland Library.
In the late 1870s, thousands of Chinese men left coastal British Columbia and the western United States and headed east, and north. For these men, the prairies were a land of opportunity: there, they could open shops, and potentially earn enough money to marry. The result of almost a decade’s research to build an archive and more than 300 interviews, Cultivating Connections tells the stories of some of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada’s Chinese settlers – across the generations, between the genders, and through cultural difference. Half of the book recounts the stories of men – Ma Seung, one of Canada’s earliest Chinese Presbyterian missionaries, as well as café owners, salesmen and power brokers.
The other half of the book tells women’s stories.
Of special interest locally is a chapter devoted to the story of Ma Seung (1872-1951), whose first missionary posting was to the Presbyterian church in Cumberland Chinatown.
The author includes excerpts from Ma’s autobiography from his early years in China, through his somewhat colorful young adulthood in Victoria, to his eventual embracing of the ministry and the life he and his family experienced in Cumberland then the prairies.
Alison Marshall is author of the award-winning The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba, published with UBC press. She is a professor of religion at Brandon University, and adjunct professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Winnipeg. Copies of Cultivating Connections will be available for sale.
She will be at the Cumberland Library, 2746 Dunsmuir Ave., on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. for a reading.