Saturday, February 24, 2024

Canadian Heroines: Victoria Cheung

By Terrie Todd

If I asked you to name the first Chinese Canadian (male or female) to graduate as a doctor in Canada, could you? How about if I asked you to name the only Canadian missionary to have worked in China throughout the Japanese invasion, World War II, and the Communist revolution? Hint: it’s the same person. Don’t feel bad, I couldn’t have named her either.

Victoria Toy Mea Cheung was born in Victoria, BC in 1897, the same year as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Cheung was born during a time when Canada did not welcome the Chinese, when the only people forced to pay a head tax were immigrants from China. Did her parents name her Victoria in hopes that she would be better accepted by the dominant white society?

Victoria’s father, Sing Noon Cheung, had immigrated from his South China village, lured by the Canadian Pacific Railway to help build the transcontinental railway. After the final spike was driven in 1885, he began a small business in Victoria and saved enough money to bring his wife to Canada. He was one of the first Chinese converts to Christianity in the city. His wife, Yin Han, a highly educated woman, had become a Christian in China.

At age five, Victoria attended kindergarten at the Oriental Home run by the Women’s Missionary Society. Originally a place of refuge for at-risk girls and women of Asian descent, the Chinese Rescue Home had become a segregated school offering a public school curriculum, evangelical teachings, and lessons in the domestic arts. Enrolled as a boarder, Victoria could visit her family at home only a few blocks away.

A popular and smart girl, Victoria taught Sunday school, participated in girls’ groups, and resolved to become a medical missionary to China. The idea was preposterous in British Columbia, where provincial legislation prohibited Chinese people from entering professions. Being Chinese wasn’t Victoria’s only hurdle. The University of Toronto was the only medical school accepting female students. Thanks to a full university scholarship from the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Society, Victoria joined the medical school there in 1917. When she graduated in 1922, she was one of only 14 women in a class of 79 graduates.

After interning at Toronto General, Victoria joined the South China Mission, taking charge of a hospital in Kongmoon and serving as both a skilled surgeon and an efficient administrator. Despite political upheavals that forced most other Canadian doctors and missionaries to return to Canada, Victoria stayed for 43 years. As a Canadian, she traveled with a British passport. But somehow her name was not included in the British consulate’s list of female missionaries in China, a list used in times of crisis for emergency evacuations. Some speculate that, since “Canadian women were white,” and since “doctors were male,” and since “missionaries were, by definition, of European heritage,” Victoria Cheung could not possibly have been all three. Whatever the reason, this oversight worked in her favor during the Japanese occupation. Victoria kept her Canadian citizenship hidden, preferring to pass as a Chinese national so that she could stay and continue her work.

Victoria Cheung continued to serve through war, invasion, and the communist takeover that made her Christian faith illegal. Any connections to Canada or the west had to be kept strictly hidden. Her patients included residents of four refugee camps where she vaccinated against or treated smallpox, cholera, malaria, dysentery, and typhus. Times proved so bad at one point that a starving mother tried to sell her two daughters to Dr. Cheung.

Victoria Cheung stayed in China until her death in 1966 at the age of 69. For more on this remarkable woman, read “A Woman In Between: Searching for Dr. Victoria Cheung,” by John Price and Ningping Yu.

Sources:

100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces, by Merna Forster, Dundurn Press, 2004

Wikipedia

The Canadian Encyclopedia

One secret.

Three sisters.

One is desperate to discover the truth. One wishes the truth would simply go away. And one would give her life to keep the truth hidden forever.

“I couldn’t stop turning the pages of this compelling story! … With God’s help, good can come from evil, and that lesson is beautifully shown in April’s Promise. I recommend this story for lovers of Christian fiction and compelling stories.” --Jeanne, Goodreads

April’s Promise was short-listed in both the 2020 Word Awards & the 2020 Braun Book Awards.


Terrie Todd’s novels are set mostly in Manitoba, Canada where she lives with her
husband, Jon, in Portage la Prairie. They have three adult children and five grandsons.

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Friday, February 23, 2024

CAT’S CRADLE

 

By Mary Davis

Though adorable, not those kinds of cats.

This kind.

As a child playing Cat’s Cradle, I never realized it was an ancient game played in many cultures.


Cat’s cradle is a string game involving various figures with a loop of string made on the hands. Versions can be played by either one or two people, sometimes more. Each figure created has a different name.


Variations of this game have been found independently in cultures around the world; some of these are Africa, the Americas, the Arctic, Australia, Eastern Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

In other countries this game goes by different names.

         France — crèche

         Japan — ayatori

         Korea — sil-tteu-gi

         Russia — the game of string (but in Russian)

         China — fan sheng (turning rope)

         Israel — Knitting Grandmother

         In some regions of the U.S. — Jack in the Pulpit


So, who created this attention absorbing game and when?


No one really knows, but it is found around the world.

Though the origin and name of this enduring game is debated, it may have begun in China and has likely existed for centuries. Even so, the earliest mention of it in literature isn’t until 1768 in a novel titled The Light of Nature Pursued by Abraham Tucker under the pen name Edward Search.


“An ingenious play they call cat's cradle; one ties the two ends of a packthread together, and then winds it about his fingers, another with both hands takes it off perhaps in the shape of a gridiron, the first takes it from him again in another form, and so on alternately changing the packthread into a multitude of figures whose names I forget, it being so many years since I played at it myself.”


However, Cat’s Cradle isn’t the only game nor is it the only use of a loop of string to create figures. People have been manipulating string for as long as there has been string.

The first known written account of manipulating string was by first century Greek physician Heraklas where he describes surgical knots and slings. His figure called the “Plinthios Brokhos” was used to set and bind a broken jaw. With the string doubled, the shape consisted of four corner loops with a hole in the center. The chin would be placed in the middle hole while the four loops are pulled up near the top of the head and tied. This figure is known as “The Sun Clouded Over” to the Aborigines in Australia.

The extinct woolly mammoth is a figure the Inuits have. So, their culture had been playing with string for a very, very long time to have knowledge of an animal that no longer exists.


And like so many things, there are Guinness Book of World Record holders. In August 1974, a trio of California girls, Geneva Hultenius, Maryann Divona, and Rita Divona played Cat’s Cradle for 21 hours, making 21,200 changes between them. They were in the 1975 and 1976 editions of Guinness Book of World Records. But they didn’t hold their title for very long. In August of 1976, a pair of Canadians, Jane Muir and Robyn Lawrick, also played for 21 hours and completed 22,700 changes, dethroning the California trio. So many questions go through my mind of how they managed this, but I keep coming back to someone having to had counted all those exchanges while not losing track, not to mention bathroom breaks and eating.

In 1963, the game was the inspiration for Kurt Vonnegut’s novel aptly titled Cat’s Cradle where a character surmises that the invisible cat in the game symbolizes all the nonsense of life.

Did you play Cat’s Cradle or other string games in your youth?

 

Here’s a video if you want to refresh your memory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpHTPnrYLzQ

 

THE QUILTING CIRCLE SERIES Box Set

Historical Romance Series

By Mary Davis

THE WIDOW’S PLIGHT (Book1) – Will a secret clouding a single mother’s past cost Lily her loved ones?

THE DAUGHTER’S PREDICAMENT (Book2) *SELAH & WRMA Finalist* – As Isabelle’s romance prospects turn in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams.

THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (Book3) *SELAH Winner* – Nicole heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband. Can she learn to be enough of a lady to snag the handsome rancher?

THE DÉBUTANTE’S SECRET (Book4) – Complications arise when a fancy French lady steps off the train and into Deputy Montana’s arms.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CNZPRRS2/ref=sr_1_7?crid=3NJNTQ5SD1WGB&keywords=the+quilting+circle+by+mary+davis&qid=1700957455&s=digital-text&sprefix=%2Cdigital-text%2C155&sr=1-7

 




MARY DAVIS, bestselling, award-winning novelist, has over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE LADY’S MISSION. Her other novels include THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle Book 4) THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) is a SELAH Award Winner. Some of her other recent titles include; THE WIDOW'S PLIGHT, THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection, Prodigal Daughters Amish series, "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:
Books2Read Newsletter Blog FB FB Readers Group Amazon GoodReads BookBub

Sources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpHTPnrYLzQ

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat%27s_cradle#References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_figure

https://www.beano.com/posts/cats-cradle-facts

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The M.S. St. Louis, Abandoned by the World

 By Sherri Stewart

In May 1939, 937 passengers, most of whom were Jewish, boarded the MS St. Louis in Hamburg, Germany, to begin their new lives in a safer place. For many Jews, Kristallnacht, the night when Nazis destroyed businesses, synagogues, and homes was a clear signal to leave. At the time, the Nazis were eager for German Jews to leave the country. Since it wasn’t safe in other parts of Europe, many sought to move to different continents. The people aboard the St. Louis had made the difficult decision to start new lives thousands of miles away. The ship's destination was Cuba, but most the passengers intended to stay in Cuba only until they could obtain visas for the United States. Therefore, the passengers had purchased and held Cuban visas.

https://www.britannica.com/event/Kristallnacht

Captain Schröder went to great lengths to assure that all the passengers were treated with dignity. The crew provided childcare while the passengers ate dinner. There were dances and concerts and swimming lessons at the pool, and on the Sabbath, religious services were held in the dining room—the bust of Hitler covered with a tablecloth. Many thought the trip was a “vacation cruise to freedom.”

https://www.accidentaltalmudist.org/heroes/2022/12/14/heroic-german-sea-captain

After two weeks of traveling across the Atlantic, the St. Louis arrived in Havana, but a shocking discovery awaited the passengers. They discovered that they were not allowed to disembark because Cuba’s government had canceled all but twenty-eight of their visas and refused to let the ship land. What’s worse was the fact that before they’d even left Germany, Cuba had already revoked their visas, but hadn’t informed anyone on the ship.

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa27098

A week passed as they sat on the ship in the harbor, and the passengers became increasingly desperate. They formed a committee and begged Cuban President Federico Laredo Bru and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt for sanctuary. Five days later, thirty passengers were permitted to enter Cuba, leaving 907 passengers on the ship. When it became clear that Cuba was indifferent to their pleas, the ship sailed toward the United States. Captain Schröder circled off the coast of Florida, hoping for permission to drop anchor in Miami, but the president refused to admit the refugees, as did Canada’s prime minister. Schröder even considered running the ship aground to allow the refugees to escape, but the Coast Guard shadowed the ship and prevented it.

https://uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/f795301fa0e82ab5a3f65ccb47d96c53/timeline-the-ms-st-louis/index.html

After the St. Louis was turned away from the US, the ship made its way back to Europe, although Schröder refused to return to Germany. After a great deal of negotiating between the captain and neighboring countries, England, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands agreed to take the rest of the passengers, so the MS St. Louis returned to Hamburg, Germany, empty. Of the 907, who were refused admittance to Cuba, Canada, and the US, 254 died in concentrations camps.

https://www.cruiselinehistory.com/the-ms-st-louis-1939-liner-voyage/

In 2012, the United States Department of State formally apologized to the survivors of the ship, and in 2018, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau did the same. “We were not wanted,” St. Louis survivor, Susan Schleger, told a Miami Herald reporter in 1989. “We were abandoned by the world.” Erin Blakemore, ”A Ship of Jewish Refugees was Refused US Landing 1939. This was Their Fate.” www.history.com, 2019.

Selah Award finalist Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passions are traveling to the settings of her books and sampling the food. She traveled to Paris for this book, and she works daily on her French and German although she doesn’t need to since everyone speaks English. A widow, Sherri lives in Orlando with her lazy dog, Lily. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and other authors' books in her newsletter.
Subscribe at http://eepurl.com/gZ-mv9

Secrets Dark and Deep

TV anchor, Maddie Caldecott, has a secret so deeply buried within that she doesn’t remember it. But the man called Absalom knows her secret, and his threats to exact his revenge are becoming more and more intrusive. As an investigative reporter, Maddie can dig out the truth of any story, but she can’t unearth the secret she’s blocked until it’s too late.

Police Detective, Brody Messner, is at his wits end. How can he protect Maddie if she resists his every suggestion? His need to protect her has become personal. From Orlando to Zürich, he follows her, trying to stay one step ahead of her assailant—all of his notes to her, and the song. https://bit.ly/49gE1wp

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Navigating Disability in Regency England

by Edwina Kiernan



Regency England... the words conjure images of elegant ballrooms, sprawling estates, polite courtship, and a world in which societal norms and manners were meticulously respected. Yet, often overlooked in historical narratives, there existed a segment of the population whose lives looked very different from their peers: people with disabilities. While the Regency era is often romanticized for its opulence and refinement, the experiences of those with disabilities during this time were far more complex.


During the Regency era, disability was not a concept with a uniform understanding, as it is today. Instead, it encompassed a wide range of conditions, from physical impairments to mental health challenges—with varying degrees of social acceptance or stigma.


For individuals with disabilities in Regency England, life was fraught with numerous challenges. Access to education, employment, and healthcare was severely limited, exacerbating their marginalization within society. Physical disabilities, such as mobility impairments, often restricted individuals from participating in social activities and hindered their ability to navigate public spaces designed without consideration for accessibility.


Moreover, the lack of legislative protections meant that individuals with disabilities had little recourse against discrimination or exploitation. They were often relegated to the fringes of society, dependent on charity or familial support for survival. Additionally, prevailing attitudes towards disability perpetuated stereotypes and misconceptions, further isolating those affected and undermining their sense of self-worth.


An old wheelchair, made from wicker and wood.



Despite the prevalent challenges, individuals with disabilities in Regency England demonstrated remarkable resilience and agency in navigating their circumstances. Many found solace and camaraderie within supportive communities, whether through religious institutions, charitable organizations, or informal networks of peers facing similar challenges. These connections provided not only practical assistance but also emotional support and a sense of belonging.


Furthermore, some people with disabilities actively challenged societal norms and expectations, advocating for their rights and asserting their humanity. Writers, activists, and reformers emerged to challenge prevailing attitudes towards disability, advocating for greater inclusivity and recognition of the capabilities and contributions of disabled individuals.


In the face of adversity, those with disabilities in Regency England often demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability. Some developed innovative strategies to navigate their environments, whether through the use of assistive devices, leveraging personal networks, or cultivating specialized skills and talents. Despite societal barriers, many individuals with disabilities carved out meaningful lives for themselves, pursuing careers, engaging in creative pursuits, and forming meaningful relationships.


Moreover, the support of enlightened allies, including progressive thinkers, philanthropists, and advocates, played a crucial role in challenging societal prejudices and fostering greater acceptance and inclusion. Through their collective efforts, attitudes towards disability gradually began to slowly improve, laying the groundwork for future advancements in disability rights and accessibility.


The experiences of individuals with disabilities in Regency England offer valuable insights into the complexities of navigating disability in historical contexts. Their stories remind us of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community in overcoming adversity. Moreover, they underscore the importance of recognizing the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals, regardless of their abilities or differences.




Did You Know?


My award-winning novel, Beryl's Blessing, has a heroine with a limp, who struggles with her disability (and its cause and effects) throughout the story. The hero, too, is affected by PTSD. Despite the two very different natures of their individual afflictions, their mutual struggles allow them to help one another deal with their pain and suffering. Until a long-hidden secret threatens to destroy all the progress they've made...



She's used to being alone... He can't get away from his guilty conscience...

Find out more here: EdwinaKiernan.com/beryl




About The Author:

Edwina Kiernan is an award-winning author of Christian Historical Romance. She lives in rainy Ireland with her husband and son, and uses her pen to point people to Jesus - the Living Word. She also drinks more types of tea than most people realize even exist. Find out more at EdwinaKiernan.com, and sign up for her weekly newsletter for lots of fun, fiction, freebies and faith.