British Columbia’s Chinese community has donated $51,500 towards the rebuild of Lytton’s Chinese History Museum, which was destroyed along with much of the town during last summer’s wildfire season.
“I am awestruck by the generosity of the Chinese-Canadian community,” said Lorna Fandrich, who founded and curated the Lytton Chinese History Museum since 2017.
“These funds will help in a very real way for us to rebuild an important testament to the Chinese pioneers who helped build British Columbia.”
A number of individuals and organizations made large donations, including The Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, The Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and All Harmony Financial Services. A series of social media videos from the Canada Chinese Loving Volunteer Association promoted the fundraiser.
Fandrich first envisioned a museum dedicated to B.C.’s Chinese pioneers in 1980, after learning that a Chinese temple had existed on her property in 1883. In 1880, 15,000 Chinese immigrants worked the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway to British Columbia, during which time at least 600 died from dangerous working conditions.
The museum and its artifacts were burned during Lytton’s 2021 wildfire. The $51,500 will go towards the costs of the site’s demolition and a rebuild, ideally starting next fall. The museum had been insured, but likely won’t be entirely covered under new building expenses, Fandrich said.
Like most buildings levelled by the wildfire, the reconstruction of the history museum must wait for a change to Lytton’s bylaws and an archeological inspection. If both are completed soon, Fandrich said the new museum will be ready for a reopening by summer 2023.
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