A Vancouver Feng Shui master toured Calgary’s Chinese Cemetery on Saturday and made some recommendations on what to do with toppled headstones.
The Chinese Cemetery dates back to 1908 and includes many of Calgary’s early Chinese pioneers. In the 1980s, LRT construction resulted in 39 bodies being unearthed, which were later reburied in a common grave.
Not wanting to disturb the Feng Shui of individual graves, the damaged headstones were not restored. A common monument was built instead.
Now, Vancouver Feng Shui master Peter Lau has been invited to Calgary to help decide what do to with headstones that have toppled over with the passing of time.
“He recommends the stones be straightened out and make it tidy and straight because the headstone represents the health of the descendants of the ancestors. So if the stones are straight, it represents healthy,” said Jack Yee, United Calgary Chinese Association president, who toured the cemetary with Lau on Saturday.
The Chinese traditional practice of Feng Shui claims to use energy forces to harmonize people with their surrounding environment.
Lau says Calgary has another Feng Shui issue that needs to be addressed: The 12-metre-tall wire portrait of a girl’s head at the base of the The Bow tower.
For years Lau has been warning that the head on the ground is bad omen.
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“The head on the ground means, like in the old days in battle, you lose because they chop the head off and the head is laying on the ground so it is a very, very bad omen,” said Lau through an interpreter.
The Bow was the tallest building in Calgary when it was constructed as the headquarters of Encana.
But crude oil prices crashed and in 2019, Encana Corp. announced its new head office would be in Denver, following a reorganization that included changing its name to Ovintiv.
The building was sold in 2021 as a real estate investment trust needed to decrease its exposure to the city’s troubled office market.
Lau points out that just a few months after the wire head art was unveiled in 2013, Calgary’s downtown was flooded.
“After you put the head on the ground, the Bow River flooded,” Lau said.
Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong was with mayor Naheed Nenshi when Lau first warned the mayor.
“He was taken aback. We made a big investment in public art and to know now that it is a bad omen to put a fallen head there shook him a little bit. The fundamental question is, what do you do with it? That’s what we’re stuck with now,” Wong said.
Wong says he’ll be doing some inquires to see what can be done.
As for the headstones, Wong says there has been respect for many years with the city not touching the headstones until there was clarity on the issue.
Yee says they will be seeking the permission of families before any work is done.
The city took over the Chinese Cemetery in 1935.
According to the city, the Calgary Heritage Authority deemed the cemetery to be a historically significant cultural landscape that played an important part in the settlement and establishment of Calgary as a city.
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