As part of the BC Jobs and Trade mission, B.C. Premier Christy Clark today witnessed the signing of a letter of intent between Barkerville and the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese that will form the foundation for a successful tour of the Barkerville photographic exhibit.
The exhibit, entitled Who Am I?, explores the lives of Chinese migrants who came to Barkerville in the late 19th and early 20th centuries during the gold rush. It is expected to be on display at the Guangdong museum in Guangzhou in the spring of 2013.
"The people of Guangdong have played an important role in the history of British Columbia," said Premier Clark. "This agreement builds on those strong relationships. These cultural bridges will also help Northern B.C. develop strong commercial relationships with China, and will showcase Barkerville as a tourist destination."
Last year, almost 120,000 visitors came to B.C. from China, and those numbers are expected to increase with the Chinese government's designation of British Columbia as an approved destination. Visitors from China stay an average of 28 days because of the long travel distance.
"The Letter of Intent is important as it strengthens our relationship with the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese, laying the foundation for increased research, collaboration and cultural exchange," said Judy Campbell, chief executive officer of Barkerville Heritage Trust. The event also formalizes that the Guangdong museum will act as B.C.'s official co-hosts for the exhibit in Guangzhou.
"The upcoming exhibit tour shows how our historical and cultural connections with the Chinese strengthens our economic ties now and into the future," said Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell "With this exposure, Chinese visitors are more likely to travel to Northern BC, bringing new dollars to our regional economy."
The exhibit will feature about 80 framed photographs of people who left Guangdong Province to come to 'Gold Mountain' in B.C. An additional 1,000 photos will be displayed through the interactive computer kiosk. Many of the photos were originally taken so that people could send them home to China. The organizers' hope is that visitors to the exhibit may be able to identify some of the people in the photos.
The exhibit will be on display in Prince George before it opens at the Hong Kong Museum of History in early 2013, after which it will go to the Guangdong Museum of Overseas Chinese. It will be the first significant Canadian exhibit to be hosted at the museum, which opened in 2009. The exhibit is also expected to be shown in Jiangmen, Kaiping and Taishan.
As part of the BC Jobs Plan, Premier Christy Clark is leading the largest trade mission in the province's history to promote B.C. as a safe harbour for investment. The Jobs and Trade Mission is focused on strengthening existing relationships between B.C. and Asian markets, opening doors for new relationships and setting the stage for future opportunities in China and India. Delegates from more than 130 companies and organizations are accompanying the Premier as part of the effort to defend and create jobs here at home. Health Minister Mike de Jong will also be accompanying the Premier during her time in India.
Japan and Hong Kong are also on the jobs and trade mission itinerary. Forests Minister Steve Thomson will travel to Japan and Minister Pat Bell, Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, ends his part of the mission in Hong Kong.
- Barkerville was the main town of the Cariboo Gold Rush and is preserved as a historic town. Its Chinatown is the largest collection of pre-railway Chinese buildings in North America, with one of the largest Chinese archival collections in Canada.
- In September 2006, a delegation from Guangdong Province visited Barkerville and was impressed with what had been done to preserve Chinese heritage there.
- In November 2009, a delegation from Barkerville visited Guangdong Province to better understand the town's Chinatown and collection of archival records, photographs and artifacts.
- Barkerville has a fully restored Chinatown featuring character portrayals by costumed actors/historians, a Chinese satellite museum, over 20 period room displays, tours, and school programs.
- For information on the exhibit: http://www.barkerville.ca/docs/china%20exhibit%20overview.pdf
- For more information on the history of Barkerville and Guangdong Province: http://www.barkerville.ca/docs/guandong.pdf
Office of the Premier
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation