Rickochet Photo | Happy Lucky Golden Dragon

Happy Lucky Golden Dragon

February 14, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

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When I was growing up, one constant in my life was eating at the Chinese Canadian buffet. You know the one, it has a tacky name that somehow incorporates the words dragon and lucky. The one that I remember most is the Golden Dragon near Hastings and Willingdon. I doubt that it is still there but it wouldn't surprise me. It is almost a given that every small town has a typical Chinese Canadian restaurant with or without it's dinner buffet special. The Golden Dragon is in Burnaby which is not a small town, but it just happens to be the one that I remember. Personally, I love these restaurants. They don't pretend to be anything more than what they are. Cheap, sometimes tasty Chinese food for the masses. At least that is what they were when I was growing up. I was always curious about the history of these restaurants. How did the owners end up in these small towns? What were their reasons for picking that town in particular? What was it like running a Asian restaurant in small town BC? So my idea was to combine my photography with a human interest story. I decided to do a photo project about small town Chinese restaurants and their owners.

So now that I had the idea, I had to figure out how I was going to go about finding restaurants and their owners to photograph and interview. I had no time frame in mind and I hadn't put a ton of thought into it at first. So initially, I tried phoning the restaurants to gauge interest but that didn't work as no one seemed to understand what I was trying to do. So I determined that a road trip was in order. Again, not a lot of planning as I just picked a destination and mapped out the trip, planning on stopping at every small town that I could. In the end, I decided to go to Invermere, first stopping in Princeton to visit my parents. On my way up, I stopped in Hope where I met with one restaurant owner. We talked for about 10 minutes or so and he seemed to be interested and understood what I was trying to do. This was promising! Ultimately though, he declined and I moved on. Princeton has two local Chinese Canadian restaurants but only one was open so I tried my luck with the Leisure Inn on aptly named Bridge St. I know, I know, it's not the cheesy Chinese restaurant name but I am pretty sure that it was not always a Chinese restaurant :) It was about 9:30pm and I was the only customer in the restaurant so it was a good time to chat up the owner. I talked with the wife first and after explaining what I was trying to do, she seemed quite keen. But then came the hammer as she said I had to talk to her husband. After only a few minutes of talking with the husband, I knew I wasn't getting anywhere. I decided not to press my luck any further and call it a day. I wasn't going to change the husband's mind.

So this was to be my fate for most of the small towns that I stopped at on my road trip. They either didn't understand what I was trying to accomplish, or just were not interested in having a free photo shoot with free advertising. I thought the word "free" would be able to convince a few people but even that didn't seem to work. I guess my idea of what I wanted was not the same idea as what the restaurant owners needed. So after many rejections, and later some rethinking - I may have to approach the idea from a different angle. What that angle is, I haven't figured out yet but I definitely need to do some more homework. One thing I thought would help was if I had something tangible to show them so they could see what I was trying to do. In order to do that, I just needed one person to say yes. So from Princeton I traveled through Penticton to Kelowna, then on to Vernon and up through the Shushwap to Revelstoke. Then down through Golden to Invermere. I must have stopped in a dozen or so small towns and I did manage to get one yes. Of all places, it was in Peachland. Stay tuned for my first installment...

 


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