It’s no secret that we have a strong and proud Asian Heritage in Vancouver, which is one of the reasons why May has been named Asian Heritage Month.
This acknowledges the long and rich history of Asian Canadians and their contributions to Canada. Canada’s cultural diversity strengthens the country socially, politically and economically in innumerable ways. Asian Heritage Month is an ideal occasion for all to celebrate the beauty and wisdom of various Asian cultures. Canadians are invited to take part in the festivities that commemorate the legacy of Asian Canadians and their many contributions which have helped Canada to become the multicultural and diverse nation it is today. [City of Vancouver]
Two years ago John and I met David Suzuki during the ExplorASIAN festivities and I’ll be posting a bit more about upcoming events around town.
Hockey Pioneer Larry Kwong
The first installment of this month’s series (even though it’s still only April 30th) comes from a link sent to me by our globe-trotting friend Henry Lee. It’s about the first Chinese-Canadian to play in the NHL: Larry Kwong.
Born in Vernon, BC, Kwong played for the Trail Smoke Eaters then when noticed by NHL scouts touring BC in the mid 1940s he was picked up by the New York Rovers.
Seizing the opportunity to play in New York, Kwong registered 19 goals and 37 points in 47 games with the Rovers in 1946-47. In the process, he helped the team nicknamed the Red Shirts win its first Eastern Hockey League title since the pre-World War II era…
…Kwong had been dominating with the Rovers that season and was averaging well over a point per game. This had already made him a popular figure among New York’s Chinese community and his call-up to the NHL made headlines, particularly in Western Canada where he was already something of a folk hero…
…Kwong would play his only game for a Rangers team that barely qualified for the 1948 Stanley Cup playoffs against an even weaker team at the Montreal Forum… …Kwong’s moment on the ice was brief and fleeting — not much longer than one minute — but it was also historic and remains noteworthy 60 years later. [New York Rangers Website]
As much as I’ve never liked the Rangers (mostly since 1994), this story reminds me of Moonlight Graham. Larry Kwong opened the door for countless players of Asian decent (and of any other ethnic background, really) and is remembered to this day as a valuable member of the Rangers alumni.
“His career might have lasted for only a New York minute, but Larry Kwong’s role in hockey history will never be forgotten.”
Update August 2010: Larry Kwong was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame this summer. I just found a Globe & Mail article via Gung Haggis Fat Choy.