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Der She Chow
謡Z秡ZZZZ 1911-1982


Der She Chow was my mother-in-law. I first met her in May 1977 at her house in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (ZZZZZ大没ZZZZZZZ士ZZZ). In keeping with the Chinese tradition of bring the wedding cakes and roast pork to the bride's family a month or two before the wedding. Margaret and I flew in from Vancouver during the Victoria Day weekend. Getting to know her was out of the question because it was a short trip and she was busy preparing and cooking the big supper for the friends and relatives. Of course, these friends and relatives continued to drop by which created more work for her . To be honest, for me that weekend was a blur of meeting one complete stranger after another.

The next time we met was a week before the wedding. Again time was tight. This time it was my turn to be on the run. As it so happened both of our families were living in other parts of the country and all arriving at different time which resulted in the seeming endless trips to the airport plus all the odds and ends. Later in the week her out-of-town nephrews arrived and took up some of her time. We've to wait another two years before we can get acquainted.

She was born in An Min Lai, Kaiping County, Guangdong, China, (中ZZ廡ZZZZ平縣审Z氡ZZZZ) April 1, 1911. She was the second daughter but fourth child of Wing Shui Xie whose hao was Yu Zuo (謡Z永述ZZZZZZZ) and Guan Shui (ZZZZZZ) who had a total of three sons and five daughters.

We don't have much information on her formative years except she like the majority of rural children of the time received no formal education. We learned in later years, after married, she tried valiantly to self-educate. But she met great resistance from her in-laws. Despite the opposition, at the end she was able to correspond with her husband who was in Canada.

In 1928 she was married to Cho Lai Chow (ZZZZZZZ) who five years ago went to Canada, stayed and worked with his two uncles. This marriage was arranged through the efforts of her eldest sister, Kung Di (謡ZZZ娣) whose husband's village is close to the Chow's. The following year she gave birth to a baby boy. Sadly, the baby didn't survived. She seldom talked about this child but we know he was always on her mind because she expressed a desire to follow the Chinese tradition of him adopting a male child of her other sons (ZZZ繡Z) to carry on this line.

On November 8, 1929 her husband boarded the Empress of Russia and returned to Canada. Because of world events it would be over twenty years before they see each other again.

At the conclusion of World War II application was made to the Canadian Parliament to repel the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923. Taking advantage of this change in Canada's immigration policy her husband applied and became a Canadian citizen in 1949. Immediately he applied for his wife of twenty years to join him in Canada. From Hong Kong she boarded a CP Air flight, Empress of the Air, and landed at Vancouver on February 10, 1950 where her husband was waiting. Together they took the train to Elrose, Saskatchewan where Cho Lai Chow owned and operated the Liberty Cafe. Over the next six years they have three children, their only daughter, Margaret (ZZZZZZZ), two sons, Harry (ZZZZZ) and Kam (ZZZZZ).

During the same period of time they arranged to bring three nephews from China over to Canada. They are:

All three were in their late teens, no more than a year apart in age. All stayed and worked at the cafe until they were old enough to go out on their own. She had the satisfaction of seeing them become successful in life and eventually started families of their own. But she was hurt by the actions of a couple of them. She never really talked about it. I would think the sharpest and deepest came in the early 60's. At the time the Canadian government was investigating the Chinese immigration irregularities of "Paper Sons" which involved the selling and buying of immigration documents. And that was the one and only route available for the three nephrews to come to Canada. One of them, however, turned against his aunt and uncle. As a result the RCMP's made an unexpected visit.

Margaret's recollection of the event was that the RCMP came to the door unannounced. Her father ushered her and her brothers out of the room while telling the RCMP that the children knew nothing. He gathered his papers and went downtown with them. From all indications no charges were laid nor damages done except for some anxious moments. When going through my father-in-law's possessions and papers I noticed on the back of many documents in unfamiliar hand writing were numbers denoting them as part of a series, the date October 17, 1962 and an initial which bear testimony to the happenings of that day.

However, she and her husband didn't let one bad apple spoiled their belief in people. Far from being discouraged they took advantage of Canada's more liberal immigration policies of the 70's and sponsored her youngest brother, Ping An Xie's (謡Z平ZZ) son, Tho Lim Der (謡Z紡ZZZZ), who in 1980 arrived at Moose Jaw. A year later his family joined him there. In 1986 they moved to Vancouver where he now operates his own restaurant.

After the family moved to Moose Jaw in 1960 she started her own garden where she grew Chinese vegetables. Every year she would sent us a box of her harvest by inter-provincial bus. The first time I saw her melons, jie gua (篡ZZZZ), my eyes were the size of golf balls. The jie guas were the size of winter melons (ZZZZ) or about 10 times larger than normal. So we used as winter melons. Great soup!

One of her desires was to move from Moose Jaw to Vancouver. During her last trip to Vancouver we even took her to open houses. Unfortunately, her health started to deteriorate soon after her return to Moose Jaw. Knowing her wishes the family decided it is fitting that her final resting place should be in the Lower Mainland.

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