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Chinatown Altar
Altar donated from the estate of Sue Lem Bing

Artifact of the Month: Altar

This small altar was used by residents of Chinese descent who lived on the property of Sue Lem Bing, a prominent business owner in Duncan’s Chinatown.

You may see similar altars in restaurants or stores today along with offerings of fruit, flowers, and drinks. The vibrant colours, gold characters, and carved dragons make this piece very striking.

Finding the Altar: A Curator’s Memory
Priscilla Lowe, currently the secretary of the Cowichan Historical Society and former curator of the Cowichan Valley Museum, remembers how this artifact came to the museum.

Sue Lem Bing’s property contained a number of outbuildings. The executor of the estate, a well-known lawyer in Duncan, allowed Priscilla and her student assistant to take this altar and some ceramic pieces for the museum. The ceramic pieces can be seen on display in the Many Families in One House Gallery in the museum.

The Owner
Sue Lem Bing (1891-1989) arrived in Duncan with his wife, Lung See in 1910. He ran a grocery store before opening the Pekin Noodle Restaurant in 1924. Known as the boss” of Chinatown, Sue Lem Bing ran the Chinese Employment Agency, which arranged immigration for hundreds of Chinese workers. He arranged transportation, paid the head tax, fed and housed the workers, and found them jobs, mostly in logging or mills. He also had a farm that provided produce for local restaurants. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Chinatown was dismantled and the new round Provincial building was erected.

Make beef and broccoli, a recipe reminscent of Chinatown! See the vintage recipe here.


See the latest “Buy-a-Bundle” Video

Cupid gives some timely advice about what to buy your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. Scroll down to see how to donate!


Museum Renovations

Exciting things are happening at the Cowichan Valley Museum! Renovations to the washroom are underway and will be completed soon.

Read the latest update


Help Preserve The Duncan Train Station!

vintage thank you card
“SNS card 147 doily thank you” by SoccerWidow1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Sheila says “Thank you!”

Help us to save the exterior of the iconic Duncan Train Station building that houses the museum. Our Buy-A-Bundle promotion hopes to raise funds for shingling the second story of the train station. Each $50 donation will buy a bundle of shingles.

Our fundraising goal is $60,000 – that will pay for the shingles, installation, paint, and all the other work involved in conserving the upper story of the locally and nationally heritage designated Duncan Train Station building.

For the person who has everything, a donation in their name makes a great gift. For each donation, you’ll receive a beautiful thank-you card and a tax receipt. You’ll also get a warm, fuzzy feeling every time you walk by the Train Station and see your donation at work.

You can make your donation:
*At the Cowichan Valley Museum, located in the Duncan Train Station. We accept cash, cheque and credit cards.
*By cheque made out to the Cowichan Historical Society. Please mark “Bundle” on your cheque. Mail it to P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C., V9L-3Y2, or drop it at the Museum.
*By e-transfer to cvmuseum.archives@gmail.com (a question/answer is required: please use Where is the museum? Answer: Duncan – and add Bundle in the comments). For a CRA tax receipt, please send an e-mail with your full name including middle initial, and mailing address, including postal code to cvmgive@gmail.com or fill our the form below.

Get on board and Buy-a-Bundle now!
For further information contact:
Sheila Kitson, Vice-President
Cowichan Historical Society
Telephone – 250-746-6612
Email: CHSBoard@shaw.ca


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City of Duncan - British ColumbiaMunicipality of North Cowichan, British ColumbiaIsland Corridor Foundation  Cowichan Valley Regional District