One of the most famous names in the world now has a permanent home in Montreal. Barbie Expo is the largest permanent exhibit of Barbie dolls in the world and is open to the public for free at Les Cours Mont Royal. I had a Barbie doll when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite toys. I loved the dresses my mom made for her out of scrap material. They weren’t as fancy as Mattel couture, but I thought they were beautiful. The Barbies in this exhibit wear outfits designed by top designers such as Vera Wang, Bob Mackie, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein and Versace. With dolls that resemble Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Jennifer Lawrence, Lucille Ball and more, the exhibit is a fascinating commentary on fashion and pop culture.
The weather on Sunday seemed more appropriate for October than June, but it didn’t stop the Chinese Association of Montreal from holding its annual Ceremony of the Ancestors in Chinatown yesterday.
In the photos below, fake money is burned as an offering to the ancestors just outside the offices of one family association. Continue reading
Read this hilarious post by LiAnne Yu and see how many of these signs you can identify with. I can identify with every one except #7 and 10.
17 signs you were raised in a Chinese-American family
1. You speak Chinglish fluently.
You and your parents have developed your own, unique language, made up of some parts English and some parts Chinese. Every Chinese-American family has their own version of Chinglish. Some of my family favorites: “I bought hen duo (a lot) of your favorite snacks.” “It’s too mafan (troublesome).” And: “That’s so diu lian (humiliating).” When you were younger you felt embarrassed to speak Chinglish in public, but now that you’re older, you cherish having such an intimate language that you share with only a few other people in the world. Continue reading
I saw the exhibit on the Fabergé Eggs at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this week and they are an excellent example of this week’s Photo Challenge: Endurance. They are stunning pieces of art and craftsmanship that have endured over time. Carl Fabergé also created other jeweled and gold encrusted items such as frames, dishes, umbrella handles, cane handles, and carvings, but it’s the famous eggs that caught my imagination.
Looking for some free things to do around Montreal? Head towards Chinatown and take a look at a couple of exhibits by local artists.
La Cabine d’Essayage (The Fitting Room) by Cheryl Sim is aptly located in a small corner of a shopping mall in Chinatown amid clothing and accessory boutiques.
Sim examines the cheongsam, which according to her, is a dress that has become an internationally recognized symbol of Chinese cultural identity. She asks Canadian-born Chinese women how they feel about the dress and if they have a desire to wear it. You get to listen to their answers through headphones and feel as if you’re a part of their conversation. Also part of the exhibit is a video-sculptural work that evokes the classic Chinese screen on which photos and videos showing the evolution of the cheongsam are displayed, and a transparent, plexi-glass fitting room which projects clips from Hollywood films onto the visitor’s body.
If you have always wanted to try dim sum but never got around to it, then here’s a good reason to go: May is designated as Asian Heritage Month. The Canadian Government’s web site (where you can download the poster above) says “Asian Heritage Month is an ideal occasion for all to celebrate the beauty and wisdom of various Asian cultures.” Of course, you can celebrate anytime of the year, but what better excuse to order Chinese take-out and indulge in a marathon of Bruce Lee or Ang Lee films?
Need some more ideas? Here are a few from my shelf of Canadian books and film:
I’m currently reading A Cowherd in Paradise – From China to Canada by May Q. Wong and am loving it. It’s the story of Wong’s parents who were forced to live apart for 25 years because of Canada’s exclusionary immigration laws. It is a well-written account with family photos and it brings to life the price the Chinese paid when Canada enacted the Chinese Immigration Act. I met Wong when she came to Montreal to do a reading of her book. You can read about it here.
The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son and a Suit by J.J. Lee was a finalist for the Governor General’s literary award for non-fiction in 2012. This book deserved all the accolades it received. This memoir about a son who decides to become an apprentice to one of the last great tailors in Vancouver’s Chinatown in order to alter his father’s suit learns invaluable lessons about life instead.
The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy is, in my opinion, a classic. It’s the story of the children of an immigrant family living and growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s. Continue reading