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Children’s book on Vernon hockey legend in focus at speaker series

Chad Soon’s The Longest Shot tells the story of Larry Kwong, who broke the colour barrier in 1948

A Vernon teacher has captured the remarkable story of hockey trailblazer Larry Kwong in a children’s book that will be the focus of the first instalment of a new event series.

The Museum and Archives of Vernon, in collaboration with the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Historical Society (OHS), have announced the launch of their speaker series, Hometown Histories. The inaugural event in the series is set to take place May 25 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the museum.

The first featured speaker is local teacher Chad Soon, whose presentation will focus on the life and legacy of Vernon’s Larry Kwong, who broke the colour barrier when he became the first player of Asian descent to play in the National Hockey League in 1948.

An expert on Kwong and his place in hockey history, Soon offers a unique perspective on the historical significance of the Vernon icon.

Attendees can expect an engaging exploration of Kwong’s experiences, with particular emphasis on his formative years growing up in Vernon in the 1920s and ‘30s.

“We’re honored to welcome Chad Soon as our guest speaker for this special event,” said Gwyneth Evans, museum archives manager. “His insights into Larry Kwong’s life will undoubtedly deepen our understanding of Vernon’s rich cultural heritage.”

Soon released his co-authored children’s book, The Longest Shot, in February. Copies of the book — which also involved the contributions of fellow author George Chiang and illustrator Amy Qi — will be available for cash purchase during the event.

Proceeds from book sales will support the Larry Kwong Memorial Hockey 4 Youth program, which expanded to Vernon last year and gives disadvantaged kids a chance to take part in Canada’s national pastime, regardless of their place of origin or their family’s income.

May is Asian Heritage Month, and Soon said the Vernon talk and book launch lines up nicely with this year’s theme: preserving the past, embracing the future, and amplifying Asian Canadian legacy.

The Hometown Histories speaker series represents the first of several co-hosted activities that the museum and OHS Vernon hope to achieve in 2024 and beyond.

Since its founding in 1925, the OHS has been an advocate for the preservation of local history. Clint Evans, president of the Vernon branch, expressed enthusiam for the partnership between his organization and the museum.

“This collaboration presents a wonderful opportunity for our organizations to combine efforts and resources. We are thrilled to commence our revitalized partnership with a presentation by Chad Soon, whose dedication to local history embodies the essence of our mission,” Evans said.

Tickets for the speaker series event are $10 and must be pre-purchased online at greatervernonmuseum.square.site. Seating is limited, so people are encouraged to reserve their spots early.

For tickets and further information, click here.

Do you have a story to share that you think would be a good fit for the speaker series? Reach out to Gwyneth Evans at gwyn.evans@vernonmuseum.ca.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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