Cheung Chau's European Reservation | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
Pre-order the new Gwulo book today to get 
special pricefree shippingsigned copies, and a free sample
Details and how to order

Cheung Chau's European Reservation

You know that the Peak was once off-limits to Chinese residents. But did you know that a large part of Cheung Chau was too?

The "Cheung Chau (Residence) Ordinance, 1919", passed on August 28th that year, stated "no person shall reside within that southern portion without the consent of the Governor-in-council."

Here's a map from 1938 [1], showing the European "southern portion" and the boundary that separated it from the Chinese north:

1919 - A racial or economic division?

In 1919 when this law was proposed in the Legislative Council [2], the two Chinese members were firmly against it. Mr Ho Fook declared:

"In view of the fact that the war [World War I] has been won by all races in the Empire I cannot be party to the passing of the Bill which, in my opinion, is nothing less than racial legislation. I hope you will see your way to withdraw this Bill as suggested by my colleague."

The British expressed surprise, and stuck to the line that this law was intended to preserve the southern area as a place where British and American missionaries could live with their families. The missionaries needed a place to rest after spending time working in Southern China. They had previously used the Peak for that purpose, but it had become too expensive so they had turned to Cheung Chau. Now there was the risk that would also become too expensive, so they'd turned to the British government for protection.

The law gave the missionaries the protection they needed, and was "an entirely economic question and not a racial question at all."

The law was passed that same day, "Mr Lau Chu Pak and Mr Ho Fook voting against it."

c.1925 - A beach for the Europeans

Sean sent us the following photo of Kwun Yam Beach (aka Afternoon Beach) on Cheung Chau, with notes:

Came across this picture among some family pictures. On the back is written "One corner of the beach only for Europeans on the other side is one for the Chinese".

The handwriting is my great aunt's and I would date the picture to the early to mid 1920s.

Beach for Europeans

Kwun Yam beach was south of the boundary line. Just a few years after the law was passed, the division of the island was already clear.

1938 - Who lived there?

The 1938 map of Cheung Chau shown at http://gwulo.com/map-of-places#15/22.2054/114.0286/Map_by_ESRI-1938_Cheu... has a list of the 36 houses in the European area:

1. 16. Mr J A Kempf
2. Mr E C Mitchell 17. Mr N G Wright
3. Mr Johnston 17A. Mr N G Rodine
3A. 18. Mr G F Sauer
4. 18A. Dr Cleft
5. T W Pearse (London Mission) 19. Mr W W Cadbury
6. Mr P N Anderson 20. Mr Smith
7. Mr I. J. Lossius 21. Mrs L. Franklin
7A. 22. Mr R A Jaffray
8. Mr C A Hayes 23. Mr C G Alabaster
9. N Z Pres Mission 24. Mr M R Vickers
10. Treas. N Z Presbtn Mission 25. Mr J M Dickson
11. Mr Rev. L J Lowe 26. Mr C M Dos Remedios
12. Mr Smyth 27. Mr T H Rousseau
12A. Mr Sonvea 27A. Mr Kastmann
13. Mr A H Mackenzie 28. Mr P Hinkey
14. Mr J C Mitchell 29. Mr A J Brown
15. Mr J J Lossius 30. Mr Smith

Despite the British comments in 1919, the law had had a clear racial effect - there are no Chinese names on the list.

Then how about the stated goal to create an area for missionaries to live? In 1938 were the European houses owned by:

  • church / missionary organisations,
  • landlords renting them out as a business, or
  • private owners who wanted a holiday home away from the city?

Though the list doesn't say if it shows residents or owners, I believe they're owners as the same name appears next to more than one house. Then only four houses, 5, 9, 10 and 11, list owners with a clear church / missionary connection.

Among the other names I only recognise Mr Lossius [3], owner of houses 7 and 15. We've seen a letter from him published in 1907 [4], where he proclaims the benefits of "Christian Science", so he may have been listed as owner on their behalf.

Does anyone recognise any of the other names, and can say whether they suggest private or church ownership?

1946 - The law is repealed

In July 1946, Bills were introduced to repeal both laws that restricted residence on the Peak and in south Cheung Chau [5]. In both cases the Attorney General noted that "it would be out of harmony with the spirit of the times to retain the Ordinance".

Ho Fook had tried a similar approach in 1919, but it took WW2 to bring the British side around to his line of argument!

Later that month the Bills were passed, and the laws repealed.

1950s - Did anyone tell Cheung Chau the law had been repealed?

Apparently not:

When I was a girl I lived on Cheung Chau from 1950 to 1954 [...]. Being an American I lived in a house on the southern hill just past the Bible School. For most of the time I lived there only one other family lived fulltime on the hills so five of us kids had the full run of the island above the village. The Kwun Yan beach (called Afternoon Beach by the English) was restricted to Europeans and strictly enforced. Tung Wan Beach (called the Chinese Beach) was the only one the village people could use and swimming and sunbathing were not a popular past time for the native people so didn't get a lot of use. [6]

Does anyone know who it was that "strictly enforced" the access to the beach? And when did the segregation finally stop?

2012 - What remains?

The boundary: Although the boundary no longer has any legal meaning, several of its granite markers are still standing. Here's a photo of the northern stone, marked BS1 on the 1938 map, but painted as "B.S. No. 14" today. A building has grown up around it, but it is still in its original location:

 

Cheung Chau Boundary Stone No. 14

A church presence: Modern maps shows many church sites in south Cheung Chau: Caritas Ming Fai Camp, Salesian Retreat House, Shun Yee Lutheran Village, etc. How many can trace the ownership of their site back to the pre-WW2 days?

The 1938 buildings: Are there any of the buildings from the 1938 map still standing? The "I lived on Cheung Chau from 1950 to 1954" writer suggests not:

The trees had all been cut down by the Japanese during the occupation of WWII so the island was quite barren back then. They also knocked down many of the houses on the hills to get the rebar out and when I lived there the remaing walls and rubble made great "play grounds". [6]

The European beach: Last year I was lucky to visit Cheung Chau with Don Ady and Laura Darnell. Their fathers were American missionaries, and Don and Laura had lived on Cheung Chau shortly before the Japanese invasion in 1941.

During our visit we had a very kind local gentleman join us to show us around. He took us over to Kwun Yam beach, and commented:

"This beach seems more popular with the Westerners than the Chinese. I don't know why that is."

Maybe the effects of that 1919 law still haven't completely faded away.


If you have any comments / questions / corrections, or you can add any memories of Cheung Chau, please let us know in the comments below.

Regards, David

References:

  1. The 1938 map is available in the Hong Kong Public Records Office, ref: MM-0094. Here it is shown overlaying a present-day satellite view of the island. Red markers represent Places that have a page on Gwulo. Orange markers represent the numbered houses that are shown on the paper map. You can read instructions on how to get the most from the map here.
  2. See the minutes of the Hong Kong legislative council for 28th August, 1919.
  3. Jacob Johan LOSSIUS (aka Iacob) [1853-1942]
  4. Comment to [3]
  5. The Bills to repeal the two ordinances were first read on 19th July, 1946 (see minutes). They were read a second & third time, and passed into law on 25th July, 1946 (see minutes).
  6. Comments on the Hong Kong Outdoors website.

Comments

Hi there,

Before OFTA put the whole local Fidonet out of action in the 1990's, I know of a Sysop called Raymond Lowe who lived in Cheung Chau.  His father Bill Lowe had at least published one book call "Malice in Noodle Land".   I have even seen a hard cover of this book in the second hand book store in Silvermine Bay with a price tag of HKD600.- a few years ago.  I think Karl should have heard of this book.  I believe they are very likely the decendents of Rev. LJ Lowe.

Best Regards,

T

The word 'reservation' reminds me of what they 'reserved' for North American Indians in the US! It also sounds somewhat like apartheid. Anway I can't see how it could have been 'economic'. Neither do I think of it as racial. 'Race' is just too handy for people to blame it on somebody for something which is actually 'cultural' or otherwise. Let's be honest - the Brits (and other Europeans) and the Chinese have very different habits. Sometimes it makes sense for them to have their own comfort zone!

Thomas and Keieichsee, thanks for your comments. I've also had some replies by email:

Buildings & Boundary Stones

Martin wrote:

I live on Cheung Chau, just above Kwun Yam Wan.

Believe several of the missionary houses are still standing, but some in sorry state; especially in southeast, which is interesting to walk around. One has statue of Virgin Mary outside. At least one knocked down while I've been on island, replaced with modern blocks.

You've perhaps also seen the boundary stone half way up Peak Road [up the main slope leading above the Jockey Club]; tho also interesting to see one inside a house!

Nick wrote in with a similar message:

I've lived on the island for many years and many of the old European homes south of the boundary line are still there, though mostly in ruins. There's also a boundary stone on Peak Rd.

I think this is the second stone they've mentioned: http://gwulo.com/node/12751

There's more about the boundary stones on Cheung Chau here: http://gwulo.com/node/7436

I've found details of one building still standing. It's 100 years old this year, and is descrined in the AMO's review of historical buildings: http://gwulo.com/node/12752

People

Don wrote:

I may have heard of  "Cadbury", but also (in Canton area) there was a German Sauer family, and I wonder if they were connected to that house.  Mr. Sauer in case I recall correctly may have been a missionary.  I knew sons Helmut and Fritz in Canton in the summers '46, '47, '48.  As a vague memory, I think I had heard they dined quite late in the evening (a continental useage in Europe).  And the lads had accents.  They were several years older than I.  My mother taught some at True Light Middle School on Paak Hak T'ung Island (Canton).   In the evenings after 7:00 faculty and family  members and their friends could use the True Light swimming pool.  Heavily chlorinated but home to frogs, snakes, and giant water beetles - water seldom refreshed.  One of the Sauer brothers could swim underwater two lengths without coming up for a breath!

There'sa good chance Don had heard of Cadbury. I found a list of papers, diaries, photos etc for the Cadburies:

http://www.haverford.edu/library/special/aids/cadbury/CadburyWilliamandC...

There are regular mentions of visiting Cheung Chau in the summers from 1919 through to 1940. A letter in Jan 1940 discusses "destruction caused by a stray mine at their Cheung Chau summer cottage". Don has mentioned that story too.

Barbara wrote:

During 1927-29, and 1938-1940, the Naval Dockyard ran weekly bathing trips to various beaches, sometimes to Cheung Chau. The launch used was the sturdy 0C409 - perhaps it was a tug. When visiting Cheung Chau, even as an adult, I had no idea that there was 'european reservation' there.

Among the names of residents (or owners) on Cheung Chau in 1938, I recognise (later Sir) C. G. Alabaster, Attorney General (in Stanley internment camp) and Mrs. L. Franklin (also in Stanley).

That fleshes it out some more, thanks for all your comments,

Regards, David

Here's another mention. The people described are Rev. & Mrs Davies of the New Zealand Presbyterian Church. They don't appear on the list above, though the church does:

They had planned to retired to their cottage at Cheung Chau in Hong Kong Bay, however this residence was looted by robbers then bombed by the Japanese thus all their possessions were lost.

From what I read, the main reason was to set aside areas that property developers could not buy and revevelop the sites into tinier and tinier cubicles with maximum rent - driving out the Europeans because of high rents.

Many thanks David. It's one of the most interesting topics that I have come across. Actually I am not really that much into whether it was economic or racial. What matters really was whether it did serve a particular purpose. Sometimes people do need an 'enclave' so that they can thrive, and be happy. Well I think they got it!

Hi there,

Been to Cheung Chau earlier today.  House #10 is now besides a foot path of what the district board named Little Great Wall/ 小長城 (huh?  I wonder how they come up with such a name) with about 10 named rock formations.  There is still the frame of a wooden gateway, however it is heavily overgrown.  A piece of string with a note of "HKSKH property, private property, do not enter/香港聖公會 私人地方 請勿進入" is running across the gateway.   The SKH also had a House of Prayer just tens of metres up the slope, at the intersection of Ming Fai Road and Don Bosco Road.  The House of Prayer looked brand new and is what's being shown n the map above as Senic Chalets.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

Base on the map, the present day location of House #27 is the Xavier House, Ignatian Retreat Centre.  It is still be listed as #27, Peak Road, Cheung Chau.  The main entrance is on the Tin Fok Pavilion side.  There is a back door facing #27A, however.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

Looked up the GeoInfo Map Service map and found there is indeed an opening under the Photo Map option.  There seemed to be no building there except a brown slap of land.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

I believe the site had been re-developed into the Pacific Garden and Nautlas Villa.  I did find a concrete slap at the junction of the foot path leading to these two sites.  There are crude hand written Chinese characters on it, which reads 金巴崙 1958, with some sort of a cross underneath.  金巴崙 is the Chinese name of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  The concrete slap is right opposite the back door of Xavier House.

Best Regards,

T

I can't beleive what I read in the year 2012.  Sometimes people do need an "enclave" so that they can thrive and be happy?!  Sometimes people do need to exclude those non-desirables so they can thrive and be happy.  I thought we buried these racist ideas and people long time ago.  How pathetic!

Many thanks tngan. Is this the original house or a newish building?

Hi fivestar,

The location marked House #27 in the old map is not the main building of the present day Xavier House.  Its location appeared to be sort of an annex to Xavier House which looked like a kitchen of sort.  The building looked post WWII.  If you refer to recent maps or the Map Search of Hong Kong Map Service, you should be able to compare see it clearly.

Actually there are a few photos at the Xavier House' Website showing the house sitting where House #27 used to be.  Please go to the link and scroll down to the photo of Fr. Walling SJ.  The building right behind him is the one.

Best Regards,

T

Hi MSP,

You wrote:

"I can't beleive what I read in the year 2012.  Sometimes people do need an "enclave" so that they can thrive and be happy?!  Sometimes people do need to exclude those non-desirables so they can thrive and be happy."

Worth noting that your last sentence doesn't appear anywhere above, ie you didn't read that here. 

Enclaves are alive & well in 2012, think 'Little Italy', 'Little India', 'Chinatown', etc in modern cities. Lots more examples on Wikipedia.

How about Hong Kong in 2012? I've heard Kimberley Street in TST described as a centre for Korean shops & culture, Kowloon City for Thai, Taikoo for Japanese.

Do any Chinese enclaves still exist here? Rennies Mill was one, but I doubt any traces remain. I've also heard North Point was an enclave for people from Shanghai, and Kennedy Town for people from the Chiu Chau region. 

It's human nature - when a group of people move overseas, it's comforting to have a place where they can hang out with familiar food, people, language, etc.

Regards, David

You are absolutely right David, enclaves are not inherently racist. You might also have mentioned thriving areas of Tsim Sha Tsui,  which are heavily dominated to this day by ethnic Indians and Pakistanis, some of whose families have been in HK for over 150 years, and have links back to the HK police ,and to the Indian army regiments at what became Whitfield Barracks and is now Kowloon Park.  

You're right about North Point, it's where the Shanghainese investment went after the revolution in China, traces remain.

As for London where I currently live, how about Shoreditch -Vietnamese, Stockwell - Portuguese, Edgware-Lebanese, Soho-Chinese, Spitalfields- Bangladeshi, Earl's Court-Filipino. And many more, with new ones being added virtually monthly...   

Here in Australia where I live there are so many 'enclaves', especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Some people would look at it as a facet of multi-culturalism (as they so often like to call it here). Noboy discourages these 'enclaves' here as they are, as I said, nothing more than groups of people with a similar cultural and unavoidably, ethnic background. Mind you, these are not exclusive in the sense that you are not welcome in there if you don't look or sound similar. And then of course people in these 'enclaves' would at the same time want to be as Australian as they could. And they do thrive in these enclaves. One thing I think I should add is I said what I said as a true-blue Hongkonger, and an ethnic Chinese.

Hi there,

House #4 is now the site of a Recreation Camp, Oi Fai Camp, of Caritas Hong Kong.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

House #5 is now a Recreation Camp, the Caritas Jockey Club Ming Fai Camp, run by Caritas Hong Kong.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

House #15 had become a Taoist temple/retreat from 1968 through 1996 called 歸元精舍.  It is recently own by a Chinese Herbalist practitioner Yung Wing Chiu, who had proposed to build a Columbarium there.

Yung had also run for the District Board New Territories East back in 2008.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

House #24 had become the Salesian Retreat House.  Don't know if Block 0 might was the orginal house or not.  Despite the remodelling, it looked old and was made of stone with pillars and arches.

Best Regards,

T

Hi there,

I was in Cheung Chau again last Sunday.  This seemed to be what's left of House #10.  The metal pole might have been for phone or electrical wires.  I hope the typhoon might have crashed some of the overgrowns behind the gateway so a good glimsp could be taken.   However damage were done to bigger trees elsewhere.

Best Regards,

T

Although not listed above, Macpherson's house

Hello folk,

There is a photo from one of the 'gordon670' photo gallery ,which has the  house #27  I had been frequented in the 1950s, stands right in the centre of the photo with a newer building nearby. 

But for sure it is not the original #27 House. However the site location was the same.

Tung

The House #27 is at the center of this 1959 photo

http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/photos/medium/47038431.jpg

and there is a newer building nearby on the same site

 

Tung

In the 1950s, people who  got off the ferry and wanted to go up to the #27 House  usually not really took the famous Peak Road  from its starting point near the ferry pier area. That route would be too long as in a big circle.

We saw them, mostly European males in Catholic churchman dresses walking in unison advancingly cut through the local street crowd  from the ferry pier area then turned west to Tai Sun Street and on to the Chung Hing Street. There were many stores of various business and stalls of marketeers along the way that tourists and visitors loved to do their generous purchase. But for this group of churchmen, they seldom made stop for trades nor to buy drinks even on a sun-boiled day.

Near the end of Chung Hing Street, they wound turn south-east onto a narrow uphill trail. This were the places we often encountered their passing with us. I actually was quite afraid of their appearance just because we kids knew of their sole destination but had little knowledge of their mission with the #27 House. The top of this uphill trail led to the Peak Road west and it offered a paramount view over the island's west bay and the north-island  region. Here I often met them too. Today, this spot is being known as the Tin Fok Pavilon.

My friends, the Tongs, sometimes greeted them as they passed by their front yard along the trail and so knew more about those people's life at the #27 House. The Tongs family seemed to be their nearest neighour in the area downhill. And I knew exactly why the Tongs boy had no fear of the German Sherperd in the vicinity of #27 House. He went seeing them sometimes.

Once onto the Peak Road west, the landscape was entirely different. The #27 House building stood right on top of a small tableland of the pine forest. To the north was the view of the island itself. To the south, there were just a couples of resort-type houses before the open sea. To the west and across was the bueatiful and peaceful Lantau island which was the largest island in the colony. To the  east was the island's Nam Tam Wan region .

Anyone knows more about the people's life or work at the old #27 House in the 1950s and 60s? Please share with me. Thanks

 

Tung

Hello,

The one of the 1959 photos of Cheung Chau by Gordon670's Web has the House #27 standing on top of a little hill in the centre of that photo was a building within my neighbourhood during the 1950s to 70s era. It was quite a ' building '  rather than a House; so it could have been a replacement for the original one of the 1920s. So the search is still on

However, there are too few photos given in the area of House #27.

There is a 1919 photo of the J L McPherson house which is by the cliff area between House #29 site and the House #27. That follows any 1920s, 30s, or 40s photos taken fom the House#29 towards the town and Fishing Harbour, not the Nam Tam Wan, could reveal the Original House #27.

Let's check it out

 

Tung

This is what I can remember:

The #27 House appeared in Gordon670's 1957(?) picture was in fact not quite in style with the 1920s. It was very likely a bigger replacement of the true  original.

It was just a few minutes walk from the CLCY village--my childhood home area. We went uphill to this area totally unrestricted. There was a rose garden by the southern slope with a statue of Virgin Mary. A tiny viewing platform with a marble table and stone seats was free for us to use.There were boulders like the Stonehedge nearby and was a high place of great ocenview to the southeast  But rules to keep us off were later appeared as a newer and bigger building stood up nearby. They seemed to be under one church property.

As to the real original #27 House, I had explained in the Posting of '1930s Cheung Chau'. It seemed to be the House in the left of the foreground landscape. One of the special geographic characteristics was the group of boulders does appear in that posted photo and was  the same scenery we found the VM statue, the rose garden and the marble table and stone stools.

We liked to run downhill  northward or eastward from there to the village below but never southward because  of the cliff to the sea. ( Today's Tin Fok Garden Site)  The village we knew it as the Papaya Village since there grew lots of papayas during the summer days.

Through this village we found the Peak Road by its north border. That was the area kids would like to get together for kite flyings, or to watch the low level aeroplanes passing by.

I should try to draw those scenarios before losing them from my aging mind.

It was so long times ago

Tung

Hello folk,

This house in which the MacPherson once lived on the edge of the drop-off  to Nam Tam Wan in the 1919 photo given by Moddsey looks the same as the one in other photo being shown in the '1930s Cheung Chau. They are taken from a different location.

To check on this house :  One taken from the Laura's Mystery Rock group area shows a lesser look-down angle from the distant front while the one taken from the #29 or #30 can also see its backyard at a much greater look-down angle from the distant side.

Importantly the two photos in the '1930s Cheung Chau' can be carefully superimposed to form a wide-angled view. This way the Houses in this part of the Fairy Well area can clearly be identified. Consider only the foreground scenario.

The far left: on a little rise-up  #27

the middle:    #28 (? or #27A)  (partly hidden)

the far right: don't have House# ( is it the #27A ?)  -- near the drop-off  to Nam Tam Wan --- J L MacPherson House 1919.

The photos were taken from a higher ground probably on the #29 or #30 site.

As far as I can remember today's Xavier Retreat Centre is on the land of #27 site or right next to it. And #27A site was not near the Peak Road at all. The two separated by quite a walking distance. So XRC is not on the #27A site.

Does it make sense at all?

If it does, then MacPherson House was on the #27A site, having #28 House in between the #27 and #27A. It is quite incredible!

What was going on?

Better to have a cup of tea now.

Tung

 

 

An emotive subject - but perhaps one with a prosaic explanation........fear of disease.

 

Most will know that bubonic plague broke out on HKI in 1894-96........but what is not realised is that these were not isolated cases. There were continued numerous minor outbreaks (if the word 'minor' can be appilied to bubonic plague) in HK right up until 1929.

 

Usually in the spring and summer, plague broke out in HK in almost every year - with a cumulative total of 24,000 deaths.

 

Indeed, Cheung Chau suffered its own particular outbreak in 1914.

 

The plague originated in Canton, and reached HK through floating trade. With Cheung Chau's sea-faring residents, it is perhaps understandable why the Reservation came into being.

 

Other diseases such as cholera were also prevalent in those trying times.

 

China Mail 4 August 1926 notes that the first year of European settlement was in 1908. 

A few of the houses and residents are mentioned in 'Cheung Chau Notes' on page 7 of The China Mail, 1930-06-06:

Yesterday, at the invitation of Mr. A. C. Franklin, several of the British residents, three representatives of the local Kai Fong, the Head Master of the Government School, Inspector and Mrs. Shannon, met at "The Breakers" to do honour to His Majesty by drinking his health at noon. Entertainment was provided for the Chinese visitors by Radio broadcast from Canton. Refreshments were also served by our host. Some of the visitors had gone to Hong Kong to see the Review. The weather was all that could be desired.

The Houses are beginning to fill up. Rev. and Mrs. Becking and family of Kongmoon arrived at the close of May. The Rev. and Mrs. Bastin and children (Siuchow) arrived yesterday. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Wesleyan Sailor's and Soldier’s Home) will be staying at No. 26. Others are due to arrive in a few days.

A large party of about 30 are to spend the weekend here. Most of them will be accommodated in the Jaffray House. Later on in the month the graduating class of the Union Theological College in Canton will be on the Island for a four days’ "Retreat."

Arrangements have been made for the sale of No. 20, as the owner is not returning to China, a gentleman from Hong Kong being the purchaser. One or more of the other houses "In the market" are also likely to find new owners. So in many, ways the Season promises to be a busy and, we trust, an enjoyable one.