A Call for Supporters

Hi everyone!
As some of you already know, Ho Sun Hing Printers on East Georgia in Vancouver’s Chinatown, the oldest Chinese print shop in Canada, will be closing down at the end of this year.
This is a call to those of you interested in saving what we can for either / both the Chinese Canadian community (and for all of us to know Vancouver’s history!), and for the possibility of starting something like a community print shop. How many of us have dreamed of access to a letterpress for our art / book projects? Wouldn’t it be great if we could create an artspace for this to be shared? Maybe there still is some way to do something with the items in this shop, which is over 100 years old!

Photo of the Ho Sun Hing print shop

There are photos of the shop online on Peter Chow’s site (but his email form doesn’t work so if you know him, maybe you can let him know about this project) – note that some of this type and equipment has already been sold. And luckily, Julia Kwan has made a documentary (produced by the National Film Board) about the shop so it has been preserved in this way but the film won’t be out until next year.
I believe there were 4 or 5 presses left (3 of them are letterpresses), some of the lead type, including 1 set of Chinese characters (8000+ per set), and 3 machines that create the lead type itself (two that make English letters and one that makes Chinese characters – these machines are very hard to find these days) – along with a horizontal camera and the machinery for binding, cutting, furniture, etc. – everything a full print shop that does everything would need! It is truly incredible.

Photo of lead type in the Ho Sun Hing print shop

I spoke with Norman, the son of Hilda who owns the shop, and he said that someone in Toronto had made and offer of $6000 for the 3 machines that make the lead type. Lydia Kwa, who is the person who told me about the shop in the first place (and she has created an amazing book using type from the shop! Email me if you’d like more info on her beautiful work!), said that they would sell the presses for $1000 each ($1500 for the large one) but really, the family is just looking to clear the shop out by the end of the year and needs to sell as much of the contents as possible. Plus we would need to pay for moving everything (the presses probably weigh anywhere form 13,000 to 20,000 pounds) and possibly store things until the group decides how to proceed.
So not sure how much money we’d need to raise in total yet. I’ve asked Norman for an inventory list and estimate of what he’s hoping to sell everything for so we will see what he sends us. And he knows that there is now a group of us trying to raise the funds.
Also, Hilda said that Bob Rennie bought 2 sets of the Chinese type (8000+ characters each) for $6000 and told her that he was going to put them in his museum – I guess she meant this gallery?:
Story about the Rennie Gallery in The Vancouver Sun
Some of the groups that have been contacted and replied include:
  • Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver
  • Museum of Vancouver
  • Dept. of History, UBC
  • Ricepaper Magazine
  • Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop
  • Carnegie Community Centre
  • Strathcona Community Centre
  • UNIT/PITT Projects
  • The Purple Thistle
  • Projects in Place Society
  • Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC
  • Some Emily Carr folks
And a number of other organizations have the info but haven’t replied yet. But please share this info amongst your networks! If you’d like to get involved in any way, please contact Kathy at hosunhingproject [at] gmail.com. Our next step is to organize a meeting so that everyone that’s interested can try to figure out how to move forward!
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