Cheung Chau [????- ]

Submitted by philk on Tue, 11/18/2008 - 19:40
Current condition

Photos that show this Place


Can anyone tell me about Cheung Chow during the 1920's? My Grandparents lived in Canton at this time, my Grandfather working for Dodwell Co Ltd. I have some extrodinary photos of ex-patriots apparently camping in tent-like shelters made of straw. I recognise my Grandmother, and Mother in some of the pictures. The page has been labeled Cheung Chow, and some other people identified with names I recognise from my Grandparents talking about their friends. My Grandparents though not missionaries will have been part of any Methodist comunity while in China. The general look of the terrain on which the shelters stood looks similar to the picture you have of Cheung Chou in the 1930's

The notes of the Annual Meeting of the Cheung Chow Residents' Association which is available in the daily newspapers on the Hong Kong Public Library website provides information about expatriate life on Cheung Chau (Cheung Chow) in the 1920s: Advanced Search page

Prior to 1923, the Association was called the Cheung Chow Summer Resort Association.

An excerpt from the Hong Kong Daily Press dated 7 August 1926

1926 Cheung Chau (Excerpt from Hong Kong Daily Press)

This would be interesting to see:

At 12:33 on video: Intertitle 'Cheung Chau (Dumbell Island) typical scenes. Locals working in fields with oxen and ploughs. Locals washing in stream. Intertitle 'Mission houses, havens of rest'. Mission house on hill overlooking sea. Intertitle 'Early morning scenes at Cheung Chau harbour'. Various boats at port, locals in boats, buildings in bgd. Chinese junks. Intertitle 'Farewell to China'. Boats sail out to sea. Steam ship travels across sea. 'The End'.

Thanks David,

I was happy to be able to recognise all the places in the last part of this film about Cheung Chow.

The farming cow or buffalo in the field and the water pond with villagers around was by the Kwun Yim Wan. The Hill far away was of the North landscape of the 'Dumbell' island.

The two European houses were the same as we saw during my early childhood days of the early 1950s. The hill had more trees near the house sites. One of them was known as 'Kay Yuen Bi Shu'. The words Bi Shu mean a resort residence. I'm not quite sure of the words Kay Yuen since I never see the name plate, not knowing the exact words in display. In my own idea, it sounds like to mean as Wonderful Garden.

The Harbour viewing was just the same we got during the early 1950s. Not much different,  there it was a bay with  lots of fishermen junks and sampans.

Thanks again,

A glimpse of the CC's past ....My childhood nice!!

The feeling is so personal.



In 1962, I toured Cheung Chau with my classmates.   The houses filmed at 14:38 were most likely the same as those I saw.  It was my first venture outside Kowloon/HK island and this scene takes me back to that moment when our ferry was coming to dock.  Thanks.

Don Ady wrote these down in 2003, as part of a letter to his friend Donald Van Ettens. Both their fathers were missionaries in China, and the damilies lived for a time on Cheung Chau.

In a revisit to Cheung Chow at age 16 in 1948 and in my late coming growth spurt, I looked for the hills and couldn't find them. They had SHRUNK! Did you get that same feeling?

When your first grade class was gathered all in Mrs. Rae's lap at the same time, did you ever see whales offshore? That is one of my memories.

In my class at the Rae's were Johny Karcher (Chinese, adopted) and a Canadian boy, Corky Cokefield. Corky said a lot of 4 letter words out of class, but I never repeated them nor ever got in that habit. Once they egged me into joining them in throwing rocks at a bees' nest - it was on the rock where Mr. Rae had built a concrete spiral ramp for toy cars. I have a mediocre arm and poor aim, but strangely can often hit things on a first try then maybe never again. So, I hit it with my first rock, and we all ran from the avenging swarm. Only one sting among us - painfully on the back of my head.

Did you ever go through Smuggler's Cave aka Dynamite Cave? Not far from your house? I did so once with Johnny & Corky. I was the leader after they firmly shoved me in front. Sqirming out the end, I noted that the daylight was plugged by something - a masked face! A gruff voice said, in Chinese, "Your money or your life!". Having no money, I figured on getting killed. Gasps from all of us. Then, a snort, giggle, and guffaw which sounded like my brother Bob! And it was him.

Did you ever get down to Afternoon Beach? I well remember getting lots of sea urchin spines in my feet there. They were buried like booby traps under the sand. And swimming there, of course. Brother Bob used to go way out, fearless of sharks, but I always got a bit of agaraphobia in open water and stopped at the raft. Australian and Canadian servicemen showed up there - my introduction to "Strine" (Australian accent) - I remembered the phrase "I sigh, can you ply on the pie-ano?".

My folks stayed in Canton after the war, three years. I was fortunate to go to SAS (Shanghai American School) then. In late spring in 1949 I left Shanghai very abruptly with Communist armies closing in rapidly. We left Canton 6 weeks later, and my folks finished out until 1965 in Hong Kong. 1949-1950 was a furlough year. I attended High School the last year in Evanston Illinois. Had also lived there in 1936 and 1945. Then off to the College of Wooster in Ohio.

In 2015, Don adds:

My friend was named Donald Van Etten.  He had some brothers, one of whom was named Upton and called "Uppy".  When I was perhaps age 6 with Uppy and my brother Bob were about 11,  Uppy one day saw a broken loose mine floating just off rocks on the shore.  He threw stones at it until it blew up - he had ducked in time in a rock crevice.  Uppy and my brother were "always in trouble"!

The Van Etten family repatriated before the war - not in Stanley. ((Don was still in Hong Kong when the Japanese arrived. You can read his experiences at: Mr. Van Etten at some point died early, leaving his boys fatherless.  Missionary family.  I do not recall any particulars of them now other than that they lived a number of houses to the East of the house we rented, a bit closer to Hong Kong.

My sister, who is older than me, remembers Cheung Chau (likely a lot better than I do) and is interested in especially older photos of there and of Hong Kong and the area.  She remembered well the occasion when the dead whale washed ashore.  She and my brother rushed home, excitedly, to announce it.  "My life was over" when I was denied permission to run off to get a look for myself - age 6 perhaps that was - but I got over that by this time, haha!  It allegedly had a knockout odor.  That did not keep away a swarm of older kids, with some boys climbing "aboard" and taking samples with knives. Laura Ziegler Darnell did see the whale, I think.  We could see the whales spouting, some times.

It was my sister holding me when I saw the white coral tree (somewhere) on Morning Beach at my sole swim on that side of the island.

My sister elaborated for me on the Van Ettens:

The Van Ettens had five sons: the oldest, Al, was my age--I saw him a few times when he and his family lived in Puyallup; then came Uppy (Upton),  Tommy, Donny, and I can't remember the youngest's name.  Their father was a doctor who died of typhoid the last year we lived on Cheung Chau, after which they had to come back to the U.S. 

Thanks to Don & his sister for sharing their memories with us.

Thanks moddsey for the video.   Year 1939, the girl's age and her hair style, happy dog though not so the cat,  lovely parents.  I think these matches one famous movie if the wind had been much stronger.  Regards,  Peter

Thanks for the picture with people by the house. As a kid, I learnt from CC folks that the Tsang Fook family had a big house here. They started the piano business in the city. This house was quite close to my high school down the road during the 1960s.



The Waves Garden was in quite a good shape back in the 1960s but hardly for us to know about the residents nor their visitors. Other sources reveal that the property got neglected for the Tsang did not have a direct descendent and his family relatives ( the Law Family ) had keen interest only on running the Tsang Fook  piano & music business.

I don't think it is a ghost house. Somehow the SAR office should know better.



In her Annals of an Isle in the Pacific, Winifred Lechmere Clift tells this tale of a pirate attack on Cheung Chau one summer night in 1912.  The village population was thought to be 4-5,000 at this time.

The island was policed by a white sergeant and one or two Indian constables and their police station was set by the village pier with one end opening onto the pier and the other end opening onto the village.  One of the sergeant’s duties* was collecting crown rents and a large sum of money was lying in the safe in the police station.

One night a group of armed pirates arrived to see what they could get in the village.  The sergeant and his wife slept in a matshed above the village where it was cooler, and the sergeant was awoken by a villager who raised the alarm.  He made his way down to the station to find the safe empty, the robbers gone and the Indian night guard dead, so arming himself with a revolver, he set off after the thieves, who were set on robbing other premises.

Catching up with them, he found they had robbed the pawn shop, which was also the village repository for valuables, so keeping at a distance he fired single shots at them, (and the pirates fired back), changing his position each time, until it reached a point where they had had enough.  They made their escape by launch in the direction of Macau taking two dead comrades with them.

Hong Kong Police had to be informed at once but as Cheung Chau didn’t have its own telegraph contact, and the island's steam-launch had been disabled by the thieves, a junk was sent to Green Island, which had a telegraphic connection. 

The news reached Macau next morning and the police intercepted the men there, who had aroused some local interest because they were burying two bodies without coffins.

When the question arose as to why the thieves had not tried to raid the bungalows (some 30-40 at that time) which were full of summer visitors, the answer was given that they were filled with missionaries who were so poor that when it came to paying their staff, they had to go to Hong Kong for the money!

*As well as protecting islanders from pirate raids, police duties at this time involved making raids on gambling dens, and searching junks for forbidden arms and dynamite, which fishermen were using as a speedy way of catching fish.

**After this incident, eight soldiers were stationed on the island with the two constables, to reassure the islanders for a while.  The Tommies looked on it as a prolonged picnic.