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牛震先生 生平   

        牛震先生於1931年生於山東農村,幼年即逢日本侵華戰爭,時在農村啟蒙家庭私塾。及至少年又逢國共內戰,為避戰亂,在省城濟南就讀小學初中,一九四八年國共濟南戰役後,為追求自己繼續求學,即謀離開戰亂,去上海與在上海經商胞兄相聚,繼續學業。不料當歷盡艱辛抵達徐州之同日,胞兄惦念濟南戰亂的家人,搭乘徐州至臨城間火車北上,牛先生同日南下火車兄弟倆未能相見,即造成牛震先生一生流亡的命運。

 

       牛震先生以學生身份,在徐阜會戰之前夕,即向山東省所設濟南戰後逃出青年學生收容所登記,山東省政府將收容的學生分配至新成立的七個山東聯合中學,牛先生被分到在浙江的第一聯合中學。後隨學校流浪之澎湖從軍。然後考進陸軍官校,畢業後服軍官役十五年退役,於1980年移民加拿大,在Edmonton從事移民的新生活。

Background Information about Mr. Chen Niou

Mr. Chen Niou was born in 1931 in Shandong province of China. Growing up he had witnessed the extreme cruel treatments that Japanese soldiers imposed on many innocent Chinese citizens. He left his hometown in 1948 and failed to meet up with his older brother. He reported to Student Services of the Department of Education at Xu Zhou. Then he was sent with many students to Nanjing. They stayed in a high school gymnasium with limited food supply and facilities.  To escape from Communist soldiers he and many students walked south. The journey was very difficult and he experienced starvation. Later he arrived at Guangzhou which was the temporary capital of Kuomintang’s (Guo Min Dang) administrative centre. While he was waiting to be shipped as future soldiers to Peng Hu island, Taiwan he was able to tour the city and relaxed.

 It was July 7, 1949 he arrived Peng Hu. He got sick and had to stay in the hospital for 19 days. After he was released he was sent to the army and received military training. Because Mr. Niou was a very diligent student and excelled in his studies eventually he was recruited to be a member of military police. He served the government for eight years. He was very proud of his service and being a role model for young officers by encouraging them to study and improve themselves. Later he was recommended to the Department of Defence.  In 1967 he applied to retire from the military service.

After the departure from military service Mr. Niou was able to seek employment with China Airlines. After some time he realized that it was not suitable for him and started planning to emmigrate.  At first he and his family arrived San Francisco but he and his family had some challenges adapting to the new Chinese community.  Consequently, he applied to immigrate to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The application was approved and they arrived Edmonton in the 1970s.

简体字版:

 

一、 移民初始阶段​

         1980年我带妻儿一家五口来到埃德蒙顿后怎样生存下来?遇到很多挫折,很多困难。我在台湾是退役军人,没有钱、没有退役金,退休金很少,家里没有储蓄。我带着一家人来到这里,身上只有八千块钱。八千块存到银行,想买一谋生小生意,买个餐馆当时做,一个最小的餐馆,要价也要两万到三万。唯一可行的即先打工。在一个朋友家住几天,朋友家公寓很窄,我很快就找了公寓。一个礼拜就搬了进去,租公寓,每个月450块钱。

 

         我在Jasper Avenue 和121 Street一间西餐馆找到工作,雇用了我,暂时解决了一家人衣食。我的这份厨工,时薪6元(当时最低工资是3.6元)。早上,我六点钟上班,到下午两点鈡下班,做西餐早餐。两个礼拜发一次薪金,两个礼拜支票,约四百五十多元,正好够交房租,另外两个礼拜的钱用于家庭生活开销。我做了一个多月,要开车跑那么远,当时发现我住处附近(南边),有一家叫史密提斯(Smitty’s Restaurant) 西餐馆。同样的工作,不用开车,走路去都可以。工作一样,待遇一样,我为什么不找近的呢?于是我就转移到Smitty’s 工作,我也做了个多月。我从报纸看到一则广告;有个餐馆出租,Travelodge旅馆,有个 coffee shop要出租; 餐位有四十个,做西餐。我经营过西餐而且是租不是买,这很适合我的条件,于是就把承租下来。月租700元,租约二年,另押金7,000元,每日营业时间早上6时至晚上8时,十四小时,我们夫妻两人可以操作,每日工作14小时,每周七天,干了二年,积蓄了约四万多元。

 

二、为孩子安排学校

        我们来的时候,住在附近的公寓租住,过马路就是小学和中学。我老大注册D.S. McKenzie学校读7年级,老二老三注册Duggan 小学读五年级和四年级,没有任何困难。孩子们上学过马路即到学校。我们的餐馆早上六点就开门,我们五点就起床开车去,我们用电话叫三个孩子起床,我们六点就要出门做生意,小孩还在睡觉,我们打电话回家,让他们起床。老大上七年级,十二岁了,就叫弟弟起床。我们走的时候,把饭放在电锅里热着,他们早上起来吃。中午的饭,做好,放在一边,等早饭吃完,要老大再把中午的饭放在电锅里热,然后他们上学去,中午休息的时候,回家吃午饭。用这种方法,照顾他们上学,我们都没有怎么管他们。孩子都很乖听话。

 

         初期生活,难免遇到困难。有一次,老三感冒发烧,餐馆就我们夫妻两人经营,缺一个都不行。只能请朋友就近帮忙照顾一下。又有一次,给我的印像很深刻,一个冬天上午,零下20 ℃度的一个礼拜天,孩子们坐52号巴士去餐馆。上午八时我们打电话回家,孩子已出发了, 时己近三个小时,我们非常急懆,平常周日孩子们放学后乘搭52号公车到餐馆, 没有困难,至午时孩子终于到了。为什么费这么多时才到达餐馆? 原来是孩子们不知道星期假日52号公车只行半途至Whyte Ave.为终点站,被迫下车。下车后怎么办,既不知前路亦不知如何搭乘其他公车,只有懵着走。当时三人年龄分别为十二岁、十岁、八岁。老二脑筋很灵活,告诉哥哥坐计程车。老大不肯,带着两弟弟走路,过了河,沿着梯子爬了坡,冻得不得了。后来发现了一个亭子,后面有个房子,他们进去暖了一下。问人家餐馆怎么去,餐馆就在附近,人家告诉他们餐馆怎么去。三个小孩子才来到。到了餐馆,我看着他们,我说不出话。

 

        孩子们礼拜六礼拜天不上学,通常都到餐馆去吃饭,中午吃过饭,要他们在餐馆玩。餐馆晚上六点关门,我们一同回到家里,差不多八点了。吃点水果,还要帮孩子补习一下。我老大在台湾小学毕业,没读过英文,从ABC开始,我很担心他的英文一课。回到家后,教他学怎么查字典,记单字。他的老师Mr. Head 是一位教ESL 学生的优秀教师,每天给他30个生字,叫他回家背。我回家就帮他认这三十个生字。能查字典就自己查,不能查我就告诉他,让他记下来,死记硬背。第二天,老师再检查。我老大读了半年,他的英文足够写近百字的文章,我就很高兴。老二老三读小学,学英文没有那么担心,但是我总希望他们很快能跟上同班同学。小学每年圣诞节以前,都会有个老师会见家长(meeting parents)时间。我看到我家孩子回家没事干,又怕他赶不上,于是我在会见老师时对老师要求,孩子在家没事做,光玩耍,能不能给他点功课,给他点英文作业,让他回家做。老师给我的回答使我获得很大启示;他说让他去玩,他们是玩的年龄。不要担心他们学语言困难,我可以向你保证,小孩吸收能力很强,让他们去玩,玩也是一种学习。该玩的就让他们玩。

 

         第一学年结束时,举行学校结业班结业典礼,学生上台表演,有的演讲,有的说故事,有的说笑话。我儿子表演说故事,我很担心他们怎么会说,谁知道他们上台照样说,说得很好。从此我就放心了,语言我根本不用顾虑。到他们读完小学以后,语言完全没有问题。跟他们的同学,说话一样。

 

        我的老二喜爱打冰球(hockey),参加校队。经常于我晚上带着他到外地球场打球,我曾参加学校球队筹募打冰球资金。加拿大的教育制度好,教师优秀,设备好。小学每班只有就二十几个学生。有一次学校要我去和学生讲述些中国故事,我去餐馆要了几十份十二生肖的垫纸作教材,给学生讲十二生肖的故事,小孩子都很高兴。他们觉得我介绍的很新鲜。

 

         Travelodge Coffee Shop餐馆,我经营租约两年期满,没有继续续约。很幸运那两年我赚了约四万多块钱。四万块钱是怎么赚的呢? 1980那年加拿大接收了很多越南的船民,他们初来的时候,先住在埃德蒙顿难民管理处安排在Travelodge旅馆住。住两个星期或三个星期,就在我的餐馆用餐,他们每日三餐,餐费是政府付。我忘记了他们的每天的伙食费是多少了,反正三餐由我来安排。我给他们安排中菜。所以我不愁客源,每天二、三十,四、五十客人。两年经营,不愁客源。同时我对一般顾客,采用了低价策略, 吸收了附近白领阶级上班族顾客,早午餐经常客满。我很幸运 ,辛苦了两年,积存了四万加币对我来说,总算有了些微的谋生本钱。当时我曾为一朋友之子申请移民来加,需要工作,为消化新移民的就业,就在Whyte Avenue和99街新装修了一间中餐馆,取名“华北饭店(North China Restaurant), 原来曾是华人经营的西餐馆,旧房子重建,重建后我新装修。

三.新移民的第二段深耕求生 - 华北饭店从几近破产到成功

        新建华北预算估计六至八万就足矣,在建造过程中有许多出乎预料的开支;依市政府要求加强防火设施工程和材料费必须增加三 至四万预算始能完成。经费缺口约四万元必筹集,是一极为困难的问题。新建餐馆共花了十多万元。我不会理财,我在银行存了两、三万块钱,听朋友说买黄金会升值,就买了黄金。当我做这个餐馆需要钱的时候,金价下跌,卖了金子还没拿回原来的本钱。餐馆弄起来,租约签好,装修还没好,就没钱了,资金缺口约四多万元,怎么办?于是几位知交朋友义肋借贷。同时向华阜储蓄贷款会( Chinatown Credit Union)以23% 利息借了两万五千元。银行经理深怕我倒闭,多次来餐馆察看营业情况,当时我认为我生来不曾有过问人借钱,也没有缺过钱用,何以今天潦倒至此。因此,我必须以我军人做事让不可能变为可能。如果不开门,不经营,没收入,老是花钱不行啊。于是我买来布幕,把没装修好的墙壁和窗户遮起来,我就开门营业了。

 

        开张后,生意清淡,请不起好厨师,前六个月,几近没法维持,因此为了争口气多赚点钱,多做点生意,我们的营业时间原来是定在早上十点到晚上十点。但是我不想餐馆十点前闲着,于是利用十点前空闲时间,我开门卖咖啡和西式早餐。里外我一个人操作,六点开门营业。华北饭店地区多为德国人聚居区,习惯早上喝咖啡吃早餐。我每天都可以做一百到两百块钱 约占全日营业额三分之一。一个人这样撑了三个月。到了五月,一下子机会来了,Edmonton Journal 写饮食专栏的记者Judy Shultz女士,写了一篇文章。半版专栏介绍,说华北的餐食怎么好怎么好。当时我不知道,是客人对我说:“今天Edmonton Journal专栏有一报导华北的餐饮。”我买来报纸一看,马上通知厨房要做好准备。平日生意不好,不敢备货,一下生意好了,又备货不够。临时准备来不及。下午开始,客人排队。到八点钟食料几乎用罄。此后的一个礼拜,天天都是要食客排队。当天回家,我打电话请所有的朋友来帮忙。他们来帮忙包饺子,包春卷和切肉切菜。我的生意一下子好起来了,从一天的四、五百块钱增长到一天两三千块钱。这下我就放心了,把该装修的修好,该弄的弄好,生意稳定了。早餐也不做了。银行对我也不再担心了。当我困难时,朋友慷慨借钱相助,我至诚感激,朋友之为友,乃是朋友有难时,伸出援手相助,使我体会到人与人间友情可贵。这次我困难时借给我的钱,朋友原都不要利息,但是我以银行定期储蓄利息一次付还本息。由衷感谢。

四.转换谋生职业

        我当时存了钱约十几万。做以谋生为目的的餐饮业, 非常困难。生意好了,忙不过来,没有生意,需要给员工支工钱。还有一个原因,像我的个性,不喜欢对人逢迎,笑面鞠躬,对人做假情假意,做不来, 不适合做餐馆生意。我经营这餐馆交了很多朋友,许多亚大教授都是我的常客,成为我的好朋友,例如Dr. Brian Evans, 就是我的好朋友。华北做了六年,尝尽辛酸,于是我就计划换跑道,出售餐馆。

 

        我开餐馆的时候,在唐人街有个周末的市集(Farmers Market),每礼拜天,有个养鸡的农场主人会给我送鸡蛋。我每次都会和他见面聊天。有一天,他说他父亲要去夏威夷度假两个月还没回来。当时我想一个养鸡的农民何以有这么经济实力。于是我想去参观他们的农场。农场在Leduc,鸡场很干净,有一栋房子,外面有一片草地,农场约有二十英亩的农地,我很喜欢。因此我就萌生做农场的想法。找了个专门经营养鸡场经纪的乌克兰人。他帮我安排,看了很多家,没有合适的。

 

        后来看了一个在New Norway的农场,价钱和农场什么的都合付我的要求,就是设备旧了些。我卖了餐馆后,用了三个月时间,五月份签约,八月接收。接收时,我对农场的经营一无所知,全都不懂。我以当过军人的性格敢做,敢冒险。我要求卖家,留在农场两个星期,指导我怎么操作。他是位非洲黑人,他们夫妻两人,留在农场两个星期我专心一投入学习。接手后即决定其员工一个不减,继续留用,向他们学习。乡间的农民都很单纯。雇佣的工人中有一对老年夫妻收捡鸡蛋,五位妇女选洗蛋任分级包装手,及两位送蛋卡车驾驶员。艾尔伯塔省有十六个洗蛋中心执照,我的农场算其中一个。所有工人,都是住农场附近的妇女, 由我太太带领着一同工作。

 

        当时我除有10,600蛋鸡配额外,另有选洗蛋中心执照,可以接受其他无选洗执照的鸡蛋户他们的鸡蛋送来洗选包装,洗选包装后,依公会规定价格付给产蛋户。由本中心向市场超市、饭店、餐馆销售。当时我的客户,约六十个,大的客户就是超市,郷下的Co-op和Safeway;有些餐馆,有养老院,地区范围很广。雇了两个工人一个驾驶一个副手。每人付每小时10元工资,。两驾驶工不送蛋的清理养鸡场。人工支出占了生产成本大部分,基本上初期经营亏损很大。六个月后,我就进入状况了。我开始裁人,先把捡收蛋的裁掉,由我岳父代做。然后我裁掉一个司机。我有一天,我跟车去送蛋,去了解送货的程序与客户情况。当我弄明白了,即把副驾驶辞掉。等我熟悉所有程序后,我认为我一个人能搞定,把司机也辞了。我原来不会开卡车,就在辞掉司机两个礼拜前,练习开卡车。辞去驾驶员后由我自己开卡车,一周三天送蛋,自己的鸡蛋不够,我到别处买回来再送。

        

        经营养鸡场,另一很艰困的工作是鸡舍清理。这项工作原是两卡车驾不送蛋时清理,可定我辞去两驾驶后由我自己不送蛋时做。也就是说开卡车送蛋和鸡舍清理全由我自己做,而且效果比两人做还好,自己做了一年半。后来有位经营谷物农作的两位农民兄弟,是我在农村的朋友,冬季不耕作闲着帮我开车,两人轮流。我就轻松了。

 

       当我已年届六十二岁时,三个儿子都在大学,学有专业,考虑到退休后无人接手,故决定出售鸡场,提早过退休生活。第二个原因是鸡蛋生产要有配额,用配额来平衡生产消费市场。蛋鸡农场的买卖价值,蛋鸡配额数,占买卖价格主要部分,而当时美国利用GATT谋摧毁加拿大的农业生产配额制度,如被摧破,我可能破产结束。当时我的蛋鸡配额为10,600 只鸡, 每一只鸡的额价约34元。因此决定出售,计划利用尚未老迈之年,重拾我少年时失学没有读书机会。农场出售后,即专心投入读书写作。

 

        农业生产是加拿大高生产值(GDP) 的重要组成部分。从事农业生产的人口,只占全加总人口的6%(约200万人),农业生产列为全球美、澳之后,第三大农业生产国,对世界上饥饿的人民提供粮食。何以致之?

 

一.加拿大有广阔的农耕土地和农业生产科技;

二.高价值农业生产和市 场科研;

三.高效能的政府组织和产销市场推广;

四.健全的生产法规制度。

 

       农业生产法规制度;在农业生产在基层,对生产销售建立了完备销体系;粮谷公会(Grain Board) 奶品公会(Milk Board), 以各种禽、蓄养殖皆分类组成公会,由公会管理产销市场、立法规范各公会的运作。政府仅为生产政策的指导。各公会组织功能。仅就我曾参与的鸡蛋公会(Egg Board) 简约说明:Alberta Egg Board (亚省蛋鸡公会)是由饲养蛋鸡农户组成,为管理鸡蛋生产及市场规划的自治组织。业务由政府立法规范。其主要功能是生产供应与市场需求维持平衡。市场价格由生产成本决定,生产成本与饲料价定在一个平行线上浮动,确保养鸡农户能有10 至 15 % 的利润。为了执行上述管理,对养鸡农户行 “配额” 管制,不得逾越,规定配额蛋鸡数。当时我的蛋鸡配额为 12,000 只鸡 (8% 配额冻结)。在亚省属中等规模的蛋鸡农户。

 

         加拿大农业生产与美国不同,加拿大是个体户,美国是由大企业独占。自GATT年代,美国即设法摧毁加拿大农业生产制度。如果加拿大农业生产制度被攻破,美国独占农业大企业的农产品即淹没加拿大农产消费市场,加拿大农民皆失业了。

 

          我参与加拿大农业生产的经验,可提供新移民一个就业参考。新移民投资农业应该比餐饮业要好得多,风险少些。

 

繁體字版:

一,移民初始階段

        1980年我帶妻兒一家五口來到埃德蒙頓後怎樣生存下來?遇到很多挫折,很多困難。我在臺灣是退役軍人,沒有錢、沒有退役金,退休金很少,家裏沒有儲蓄。我帶著一家人來到這裏,身上只有八千塊錢。八千塊存到銀行,想買一謀生小生意,買個餐館當時做,一個最小的餐館,要價也要兩萬到三萬。唯一可行的即先打工。在一個朋友家住幾天,朋友家公寓很窄,我很快就找了公寓。一個禮拜就搬了進去,租公寓,每個月450塊錢。

 

        我在Jasper Avenue 和121 Street一間西餐館找到工作,僱用了我,暫時解決了一家人衣食。我的這份廚工,時薪6元(當時最低工資是3.6元)。早上,我六點鐘上班,到下午兩點鈡下班,做西餐早餐。兩個禮拜發一次薪金,兩個禮拜支票,約四百五十多元,正好夠交房租,另外兩個禮拜的錢用​​於家庭生活開銷。我做了一個多月,要開車跑那麽遠,當時發現我住處附近(南邊),有一家叫史密提斯(Smitty’s Restaurant) 西餐館。同樣的工作,不用開車,走路去都可以。工作一樣,待遇一樣,我爲什麽不找近的呢?於是我就轉移到Smitty’s 工作,我也做了個多月。我從報紙看到一則廣告;有個餐館出租,Travelodge旅館,有個 coffee shop要出租; 餐位有四十個,做西餐。我經營過西餐而且是租不是買,這很適合我的條件,於是就把承租下來。月租700元,租約二年,另押金7,000元,每日營業時間早上6時至晚上8時,十四小時,我們夫妻兩人可以操作,每日工作14小時,每週七天,幹了二年,積蓄了約四萬多元。

 

二、為孩子安排學校

        我們來的時候,住在附近的公寓租住,過馬路就是小學和中學。我老大註冊D.S. McKenzie學校讀7年級,老二老三註冊Duggan 小學讀五年級和四年級,沒有任何困難。孩子們上學過馬路即到學校。我們的餐館早上六點就開門,我們五點就起床開車去,我們用電話叫三個孩子起床,我們六點就要出門做生意,小孩還在睡覺,我們打電話回家,讓他們起床。老大上七年級,十二歲了,就叫弟弟起床。我們走的時候,把飯放在電鍋裏熱著,他們早上起來吃。中午的飯,做好,放在一邊,等早飯吃完,要老大再把中午的飯放在電鍋裏熱,然後他們上學去,中午休息的時候,回家吃午飯。用這種方法,照顧他們上學,我們都沒有怎麽管他們。孩子都很乖聽話。

 

        初期生活,難免遇到困難。有一次,老三感冒發燒,餐館就我們夫妻兩人經營,缺一個都不行。只能請朋友就近幫忙照顧一下。又有一次,給我的印像很深刻,一個冬天上午,零下20 ℃度的一個禮拜天,孩子們坐52號巴士去餐館。上午八時我們打電話回家,孩子已出發了, 時己近三個小時,我們非常急懆,平常週日孩子們放學後乘搭52號公車到餐館, 沒有困難,至午時孩子終於到了。為什麼費這麼多時才到達餐館? 原來是孩子們不知道星期假日52號公車只行半途至Whyte Ave.為終點站,被迫下車。下車後怎么辦,既不知前路亦不知如何搭乘其他公車,只有懵著走。當時三人年齡分別為十二歲、十歲、八歲。老二腦筋很靈活,告訴哥哥坐計程車。老大不肯,帶著兩弟弟走路,過了河,沿著梯子爬了坡,凍得不得了。後來發現了一個亭子,後面有個房子,他們進去暖了一下。問人家餐館怎麽去,餐館就在附近,人家告訴他們餐館怎麽去。三個小孩子才來到。到了餐館,我看著他們,我説不出話。

 

       孩子們禮拜六禮拜天不上學,通常都到餐館去吃飯,中午吃過飯,要他們在餐館玩。餐館晚上六點關門,我們一同回到家裏,差不多八點了。吃點水果,還要幫孩子補習一下。我老大在臺灣小學畢業,沒讀過英文,從ABC開始,我很擔心他的英文一課。回到家後,教他學怎麽查字典,記單字。他的老師Mr. Head 是一位教ESL 學生的優秀教師,每天給他30個生字,叫他回家背。我回家就幫他認這三十個生字。能查字典就自己查,不能查我就告訴他,讓他記下來,死記硬背。第二天,老師再檢查。我老大讀了半年,他的英文足夠寫近百字的文章,我就很高興。老二老三讀小學,學英文沒有那麼擔心,但是我總希望他們很快能跟上同班同學。小學每年聖誕節以前,都會有個老師會見家長(meeting parents)時間。我看到我家孩子回家沒事幹,又怕他趕不上,於是我在會見老師時對老師要求,孩子在家沒事做,光玩耍,能不能給他點功課,給他點英文作業,讓他回家做。老師給我的回答使我獲得很大啓示;他説讓他去玩,他們是玩的年齡。不要擔心他們學語言困難,我可以向你保證,小孩吸收能力很強,讓他們去玩,玩也是一種學習。該玩的就讓他們玩。

 

       第一學年結束時,舉行學校結業班結業典禮,學生上臺表演,有的演講,有的說故事,有的說笑話。我兒子表演說故事,我很擔心他們怎麽會說,誰知道他們上臺照樣說,説得很好。從此我就放心了,語言我根本不用顧慮。到他們讀完小學以後,語言完全沒有問題。跟他們的同學,説話一樣。

我的老二喜愛打冰球(hockey),參加校隊。經常於我晚上帶著他到外地球場打球,我曾參加學校球隊籌募打冰球資金。加拿大的教育制度好,教師優秀,設備好。小學每班只有就二十幾個學生。有一次學校要我去和學生講述些中國故事,我去餐館要了幾十份十二生肖的墊紙作教材,給學生講十二生肖的故事,小孩子都很高興。他們覺得我介紹的很新鮮。

 

        Travelodge Coffee Shop餐館,我經營租約兩年期滿,沒有繼續續約。很幸運那兩年我賺了约四萬多塊錢。四萬塊錢是怎麽賺的呢?1980那年加拿大接收了很多越南的船民,他們初來的時候,先住在埃德蒙頓難民管理處安排在Travelodge旅館住。住兩個星期或三個星期,就在我的餐館用餐,他們每日三餐,餐费是政府付。我忘記了他們的每天的伙食費是多少了,反正三餐由我來安排。我給他們安排中菜。所以我不愁客源,每天二、三十,四、五十客人。兩年经营,不愁客源。同時我對一般顧客,采用了低价策略, 吸收了附近白领阶级上班族顾客,早午餐經常客滿。我很幸运 ,辛苦了兩年,積存了四万加币对我来说,总算有了些微的谋生本钱。當時我曾為一朋友之子申請移民來加,需要工作,为消化新移民的就业,就在Whyte Avenue和99街新裝修了一间中餐館,取名“華北飯店(North China Restaurant), 原來曾是华人經營的西餐館,舊房子重建,重建後我新裝修。    

        

三.新移民的第二段深耕求生 - 華北飯店從幾近破產到成功

        新建華北預算估計六至八萬就足矣,在建造過程中有許多出乎預料的開支;依市政府要求加強防火設施工程和材料費必須增加三 至四萬預算始能完成。經費缺口約四萬元必籌集,是一極為困難的問題。新建餐館共花了十多萬元。我不會理財,我在銀行存了兩、三萬塊錢,聼朋友說買黃金會升值,就買了黃金。當我做這個餐館需要錢的時候,金價下跌,賣了金子還沒拿回原來的本錢。餐館弄起來,租約簽好,裝修還沒好,就沒錢了,資金缺口約四多萬元,怎麽辦?於是幾位知交朋友義肋借貸。同時向華阜儲蓄貸款會( Chinatown Credit Union)以23% 利息借了兩萬五千元。銀行經理深怕我倒閉,多次來餐館察看營業情況,當時我認為我生來不曾有過問人借錢,也沒有缺過錢用,何以今天潦倒至此。因此,我必須以我軍人做事讓不可能變為可能。如果不開門,不經營,沒收入,老是花錢不行啊。於是我買來布幕,把沒裝修好的牆壁和窗戶遮起來,我就開門營業了。

          

         開張後,生意清淡,請不起好廚師,前六個月,幾近沒法維持,因此為了爭口氣多賺點錢,多做點生意,我們的營業時間原來是定在早上十點到晚上十點。但是我不想餐館十點前閑著,於是利用十點前空閒時間,我開門賣咖啡和西式早餐。裏外我一個人操作,六點開門營業。華北飯店地區多為德國人聚居區,習慣早上喝咖啡吃早餐。我每天都可以做一百到兩百塊錢 約佔全日營業額三分之一。一個人這樣撐了三個月。到了五月,一下子機會來了,Edmonton Journal 寫飲食專欄的記者Judy Shultz女士,寫了一篇文章。半版專欄介紹,說華北的餐食怎麽好怎麽好。當時我不知道,是客人對我說:“今天Edmonton Journal專欄有一報導華北的餐飲。”我買來報紙一看,馬上通知廚房要做好準備。平日生意不好,不敢備貨,一下生意好了,又備貨不夠。臨時準備來不及。下午開始,客人排隊。到八點鐘食料幾乎用罄。此後的一個禮拜,天天都是要食客排隊。當天回家,我打電話請所有的朋友來幫忙。他們來幫忙包餃子,包春捲和切肉切菜。我的生意一下子好起來了,從一天的四、五百塊錢增長到一天兩三千塊錢。這下我就放心了,把該裝修的修好,該弄的弄好,生意穩定了。早餐也不做了。銀行對我也不再擔心了。當我困難時,朋友慷慨借錢相助,我至誠感激,朋友之為友,乃是朋友有難時,伸出援手相助,使我體會到人與人間友情可貴。這次我困難時借給我的錢,朋友原都不要利息,但是我以銀行定期儲蓄利息一次付還本息。由衷感謝。

 

四.轉換謀生職業

        我當時存了錢約十幾萬。做以謀生為目的的餐飲業, 非常困難。生意好了,忙不過來,沒有生意,需要給員工支工錢。還有一個原因,像我的個性,不喜歡對人逢迎,笑面鞠躬,對人做假情假意,做不來, 不適合做餐館生意。我經營這餐館交了很多朋友,許多亞大教授都是我的常客,成為我的好朋友,例如Dr. Brian Evans, 就是我的好朋友。華北做了六年,嘗盡辛酸,於是我就計劃換跑道,出售餐館。

我開餐館的時候,在唐人街有個週末的市集(Farmers Market),每禮拜天,有個養鷄的農場主人會給我送鷄蛋。我每次都會和他見面聊天。有一天,他說他父親要去夏威夷度假兩個月還沒回來。當時我想一個養鷄的農民何以有這麽經濟實力。於是我想去參觀他們的農場。農場在Leduc,鷄場很乾淨,有一棟房子,外面有一片草地,農場約有二十英畝的農地,我很喜歡。因此我就萌生做農場的想法。找了個專門經營養鷄場經紀的烏克蘭人。他幫我安排,看了很多家,沒有合適的。

 

        後來看了一個在New Norway的農場,價錢和農場什麽的都合付我的要求,就是設備舊了些。我賣了餐館後,用了三個月時間,五月份簽約,八月接收。接收時,我對農場的經營一無所知,全都不懂。我以當過軍人的性格敢做,敢冒險。我要求賣家,留在農場兩個星期,指導我怎麽操作。他是位非洲黑人,他們夫妻兩人,留在農場兩個星期我專心一投入學習。接手後即決定其員工一個不減,繼續留用,向他們學習。鄉間的農民都很單純。僱傭的工人中有一對老年夫妻收撿雞蛋,五位婦女選洗蛋任分級包裝手,及兩位送蛋卡車駕駛員。艾爾伯塔省有十六個洗蛋中心執照,我的農場算其中一個。所有工人,都是住農場附近的婦女, 由我太太帶領著一同工作。

 

        當時我除有10,600蛋雞配額外,另有選洗蛋中心執照,可以接受其他無選洗執照的雞蛋戶他們的雞蛋送來洗選包裝,洗選包裝後,依公會規定價格付給產蛋戶。由本中心向市場超市、飯店、餐館銷售。當時我的客戶,約六十個,大的客戶就是超市,郷下的Co-op和Safeway;有些餐館,有養老院,地區範圍很廣。僱了兩個工人一個駕駛一個副手。每人付每小時10元工資,。兩駕駛工不送蛋的清理養鷄場。人工支出佔了生產成本大部分,基本上初期經營虧損很大。六個月後,我就進入狀況了。我開始裁人,先把撿收蛋的裁掉,由我岳父代做。然後我裁掉一個司機。我有一天,我跟車去送蛋,去瞭解送貨的程序與客戶情況。當我弄明白了,即把副駕駛辭掉。等我熟悉所有程序後,我認爲我一個人能搞定,把司機也辭了。我原來不會開卡車,就在辭掉司機兩個禮拜前,練習開卡車。辭去駕駛員後由我自己開卡車,一周三天送蛋,自己的鷄蛋不夠,我到別處買回來再送。

 

         經營養雞場,另一很艱困的工作是雞舍清理。這項工作原是兩卡車駕不送蛋時清理,可定我辭去兩駕駛後由我自己不送蛋時做。也就是說開卡車送蛋和雞舍清理全由我自己做,而且效果比兩人做還好,自己做了一年半。後來有位經營穀物農作的兩位農民兄弟,是我在農村的朋友,冬季不耕作閒著幫我開車,兩人輪流。我就輕鬆了。

 

        當我已年屆六十二歲時,三個兒子都在大學,學有專業,考慮到退休後無人接手,故決定出售雞場,提早過退休生活。第二個原因是鷄蛋生產要有配額,用配額來平衡生產消費市場。蛋雞農場的買賣價值,蛋雞配額數,佔買賣價格主要部分,而當時美國利用GATT謀摧毀加拿大的農業生產配額制度,如被摧破,我可能破產結束。當時我的蛋雞配額為10,600 隻雞, 每一隻雞的額價約34元。因此決定出售,計劃利用尚未老邁之年,重拾我少年時失學沒有讀書機會。農場出售後,即專心投入讀書寫作。   

 

        農業生產是加拿大高生產值(GDP) 的重要組成部分。從事農業生產的人口,只佔全加總人口的6%(約200萬人),農業生產列為全球美、澳之後,第三大農業生產國,對世界上飢餓的人民提供糧食。何以致之?

 

一.加拿大有廣闊的農耕土地和農業生產科技;

二.高價值農業生產和市 場科研;

三.高效能的政府組織和產銷市場推廣;

四.健全的生產法規制度。

 

        農業生產法規制度;在農業生產在基層,對生產銷售建立了完備銷體系;糧穀公會(Grain Board) 奶品公會(Milk Board), 以各種禽、蓄養殖皆分類組成公會,由公會管理產銷市場、立法規範各公會的運作。政府僅為生產政策的指導。各公會組織功能。僅就我曾參與的雞蛋公會(Egg Board) 簡約說明:Alberta Egg Board (亞省蛋雞公會)是由飼養蛋雞農戶組成,為管理雞蛋生產及市場規劃的自治組織。業務由政府立法規範。其主要功能是生產供應與市場需求維持平衡。市場價格由生產成本決定,生產成本與飼料價定在一個平行線上浮動,確保養雞農戶能有10 至 15 % 的利潤。為了執行上述管理,對養雞農戶行 “配額” 管制,不得逾越,規定配額蛋雞數。當時我的蛋雞配額為 12,000 隻雞 (8% 配額凍結)。在亞省屬中等規模的蛋雞農戶。

 

        加拿大農業生產與美國不同,加拿大是個體戶,美國是由大企業獨占。自GATT年代,美國即設法摧毀加拿大農業生產製度。如果加拿大農業生產製度被攻破,美國獨占農業大企業的農產品即淹沒加拿大農產消費市場,加拿大農民皆失業了。

 

        我參與加拿大農業生產的經驗,可提供新移民一個就業參考。新移民投資農業應該比餐飲業要好得多,風險少些。

English Highlights

An Interview with Mr. Chen Niou

English Summary - The Oral History segment of Mr. Chen Niou shared his experiences after arriving in Edmonton until his retirement.

 

In 1980 Mr. Chen Niou arrived in Edmonton with his wife and three children he had only eight thousand dollars. At that time to rent an apartment for the family cost $450.00. He was anxious and worried. How could he feed his family?

 

He figured that with the money he had he could not acquire any business, so he looked for a job. He found a restaurant job around Jasper Avenue and 121 Street and received $3.60 per hour. After a little more than a month he realized that the restaurant was pretty far from where he stayed so he sought another restaurant position. This time he found a job with Smitty’s Restaurant. He could walk to work which would save him time and money for gas. Within two months with his second job, he had the opportunity to rent a restaurant.  The landlord was from Pakistan.

 

Operating a restaurant is not an easy task.  Mr. Niou and his wife had to leave home very early every day to open the restaurant. He had to plan how his children would be fed breakfast and lunch while he and his wife worked in the restaurant.  Fortunately, the eldest son, then was in grade seven and was a responsible boy.  They attended D.S. McKenzie School. Mr. Niou taught them how to use the electric rice cooker to re-heat the food for breakfast and lunch. The strategy worked and the children were able to take care of their meals and go to school on their own.

 

Many immigrant parents experienced the stress of getting someone to care for their sick children when they had to go to work.  One time, the youngest one had a high fever.  They had to scramble and find a friend to go to their home to take care of him.

 

One time, Mr. Niou remembered very well that on a very cold Sunday the boys had a big problem. It was 30 degrees below zero. The bus Route 52 ran every hour. The boys were on the bus to go downtown to their parents’ restaurant.  They did not know on Sundays the bus did not cross the river. They were dropped off at the last stop of the route.  They did not know what other buses they could take. The second son suggested to take a taxi.  But they worried if they were taken by a stranger.  After the discussions, they decided to walk.  They did not know how to dress for the weather and with such severe weather they were very, very cold.  After they crossed the river they managed to find a home and went inside to get warmed.  They were able to find out how to get to the restaurant afterwards.  By the time they arrived …. which was way longer than their parents had expected Mr. Niou was all teared up that the boys had to endure such a journey!

 

Parents of children who are English language learners often tried very hard to help their children to learn English.  Mr. Niou asked the teacher to give his sons extra English vocabulary to learn at home. He taught his sons to look up words in dictionaries. After half a year at school (in Grade Seven), his eldest son was able to write a piece of prose for over 100 words. Mr. Niou was so proud of him!

 

At the end of the first school year, his son was telling a story in English on the school stage just like other children.  He was surprised how fluent he was.  From then on he knew he did not need to worry.

 

Mr. Niou was very happy that his second son joined the school hockey team.  He commented that the education system in Edmonton was very good with good teachers and well equipped.

 

Once Mr. Niou was invited to share Chinese stories with his son’s class.  He picked up some Chinese Zodiac place mats from a Chinese restaurant and told the story about the animal race.  Students appreciated his story and visit.

 

Going back to his business, he was able to make a profit in two years’ time.  It was 1980 when the Canadian government accepted many “boat people” from Vietnam.  The government arranged them to stay at a motel close by Mr. Niou’s restaurant.  He provided meals for the newcomers giving him a steady order of meals for 20 to 50 people.  He was successful in operating his restaurant.

 

With some savings he bought an old restaurant on Whyte Avenue and renovated to become North China Restaurant. He did not have sufficient funds.  He turned to a few friends and borrowed some money.  In the end he was able to open for business.

 

The first chef he hired was a friend’s son.  Mr. Niou arranged all the paperwork for him to come to Edmonton to work.  But after a very short time he disappeared! In order to make ends meet Mr. Niou offered western breakfast item from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.  He was both the server and the cook for this breakfast period. After that he would provide Chinese dumplings.

 

One day, a lady came to the restaurant.  Mr. Niou had no idea that she wrote for the Edmonton Journal.  It was Judy Shultz, the food critic for the paper.  She praised the food highly.  Many customers came to enjoy the food after reading her article.  With such an unexpected demand Mr. Niou had to recruit friends to help with making the dumplings. Over a period of time, he made money and was able to re-pay the loan from the bank.  He did not have to worry anymore.

 

After six years, Mr. Niou realized that he did not enjoy serving customers anymore and sold the business to a Vietnamese who had arrived in Edmonton as a “boat person” sometime earlier.

 

He then became an egg farmer.  It all began when he was operating the restaurant. He met an egg supplier.  He learned that he could make enough money to live and to go on vacation. He had an idea. He visited this egg farmer’s farm.  He liked it.  It was in the country with about 20 acres around. There was a house surrounded by green grass and the chicken coops were clean. He had a very good impression of the business.

 

He began to seek a realtor to help him find an egg farm to purchase. He found one in New Norway. He bought the egg farm three months after he sold his restaurant. When he took over the farm he did not know anything about operating an egg farm. He believed that his experience as an army officer taught him to take risks. He requested the previous owner to stay on for two weeks to teach him the management.  He kept the staff so the operation would not be interrupted. He learned from the staff what their responsibilities were. He had two workers picking the eggs from the chicken coops.  Five workers took care of washing and sorting the eggs into small, medium and large sizes. The workers are from the area near the egg farm.

 

At that time there were sixteen egg farms in Alberta. Mr. Niou’s was one of them. He had about 60 customers. Supermarkets like Co-op and Safeway were bigger ones, and there are seniors homes and restaurants.  He had to cover a large geographic area. He hired a driver and an assistant to deliver the eggs. The wage was ten dollars per person per hour and it cost $300 per day to cover their wages. He also employed two other workers to clean the chicken coops. The expenses of the operation were not small.

 

After six months, the operation was on the right track. He had his father-in-law to assist him with the deliveries. He did that three days a week. After a few years Mr. Niou decided to sell the egg farm. It was because the equipment was getting old and he did not have the capital to replace them. He purchased the farm for $650,000 and sold it for $520,000.  He lost a great deal of his investment.

 

The Alberta Government assigned quotas to manage the egg market.  Mr. Niou had a quota for almost 170,000.  Each quota cost $30.00. The total number of chickens in Canada was about three million. In the United States one chicken farm could have 3 or 4 million chickens.  Mr. Niou felt that the American egg farmers wanted to destroy the Canadian egg market. If the quota system was destroyed then he would have lost all of his investment. After much consideration he decided to sell his egg farm even though he had to lose a substantial amount.

 

He was sad that he lost the earnings from the restaurant business. He was grateful that with the money left he was able to buy a comfortable home for himself and the family.

 

Mr. Niou shared that when he was busy with the businesses he had no time to take part in any activities in the Edmonton Chinese community. 

 

After he retired he had joined Taiwan University Alumni Association and Edmonton Chinese Computer Association.  He reflected that he was poor when he arrived in Edmonton and he was still poor after so many years operating a couple of business ventures. Nevertheless, he was enjoying his retirement.  With the health benefits as a retired army officer from the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the retirement income he received from the American government Mr. Niou commented that his life with his wife was stable and happy.