ASIA X CANADA - THE MOM-AND-POP FOOD STOPS (2007-ONGOING)
Chinese immigrants made their mark on Canadian food history when they were forced to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit as a way of fighting rampant discrimination and abuse from closed-minded locals. After the mining and railroad boom, these men, largely rejected from anything outside of the lower-rung domestic realm, opted for self-employment, pooling funds from their savings, and opening restaurants wherever they could: they travelled from west to east, and established Main Street diners and dives across the country, from west-coast mountain-view villas to quiet crossroads in rural Saskatchewan and blue-collar neighbourhoods in Toronto.
This group of business-operating newcomers initially arrived from southeastern China, but later came from neighbouring Vietnam, Korea, and Taiwan. But no matter their background, these particular entrepreneurs all made do with what they had, moving into largely uni-cultural communities for golden opportunities, often taking over existing Canadian diners -- sometimes without any restaurant experience -- and quietly introducing gateway "ethnic" Chinese fare into their new home's largely one-dimensional palate. The food was unique enough to be daring, but plain enough to please the pickiest of eaters.
With their Canadian-born offspring holding no interest in taking over the family business, and with the advent of large-scale Chinese buffets and more adventurous tastes/new cuisines entering the foodie fray, these small, family-run restaurants no longer have the monopoly pull on the novel dining experience they once had. These mom-and-pop restaurants now face a choice: they can either make subtle changes to adapt to a perpetually shifting dining culture or slowly disappear from the Canadian landscape altogether, leaving an essential part of Chinese and Asian-Canadian history to disappear as well.
ASIA X CANADA - THE MOM-AND-POP FOOD STOPS is my mission to document these mom-and-pop food stops across Canada, as they currently exist, for an ongoing photo project, with a particular interest in those found in small-town Canada. If you know of anyone who fits the bill, no matter what province or territory, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.