Written and contributed by IpohBornKid
My friend Vivienne is a humble librarian in a small Victorian town, but she has written well on the history of the Chinese Gold Miners in Australia during the 19th century.
The book “Beechworth’s Little Canton” tells a 19th Century Story about Chinese gold miners in Australia.
Beechworth is a country town in the State of Victoria, Australia. You can find its location when you go to Google Map and type in Beechworth, Victoria.
My friend Vivienne McWaters, is an Australian country girl of Cornish extraction and had lived in the town of Beechworth for many years. Eversince she discovered artifacts of Chinese porcelain in her backyard, she continued to dig and research the Chinese settlement in the town of Beechworth for many years.
Being a housewife, and between caring for children and husband, she spent most of her free time digging and researching Chinese settlement history. She was a humble Librarian in the local town and through her patience, perseverance and commitment; she managed to put her research into little stories of the Chinese community in Beechworth during the 19th century.
As you read her book, you can find a lot of unintended humor despite the anti-Chinese euphoria, the White Australian Policy and legislative discrimination against the Chinese gold miners. These are simple stories and yet they contain so much historical facts about the early Chinese settlers in Australia. There is no cover-up in these stories as they tell the truth, no matter how ugly it was.
It is a recent phenomenon in Australia where a number of academic historians have begun to write the true history of the treatment of Chinese gold miners without the slightest intention of “sweeping” these ugly facts under the carpet. It is healthy for a nation to acknowledge the past wrongs and move on.
As a humble librarian, Vivienne has shown herself to be a powerful illustrator of a piece of “not so pleasant” Australian history and to tell it to the world as it was. Her story telling style beats reading volumes of “boring” history textbooks. The efforts of Vivienne and others like her, has made it possible for the inclusion of Chinese Australian history in the curriculum of Victorian high schools. It is hoped that this example will also be taken up by other States in Australia.
I wish to thank Vivienne for her contribution and courage to tell the truth by writing true history without distortion and denial. For her efforts, the Chinese Australian community, and particularly those descendants of the affected families, will be greatly indebted to her for bringing out the truth about their ancestors who came to Australia in the mid-19th century.
Extract from Vivienne’s book “Beechworth Little Canton”