August 25- 27
Harbourfront Centre

Sunset in Tamsui

1. Ships

2. Lighthouse

3. Douglas Lapraik & Co.

4. Customs Wharf

5. Beacon Street Section

6. Fort San Domingo

7. Church Bell Tower

8. Tamsui Prefecture Office

Sunset in Tamsui

When the artist looks from the height of Qizaiding into the distant sea, the small town is linked to the world in a historical prospect. Along Beacon Street, which zigzags like a snake in the painting as well as before Chen Cheng-po’s eyes, the church bell rings the story of George Leslie Mackay’s missionary work, and the wharves and ships at the riverside bespeak how commerce promotes the prosperity of modern Tamsui. On the distant hill, the Fort San Domingo is indistinct and faraway like its past. History is deposited at every corner of the small town, radiates from the sunset on the Tamsui River, and flashes with the glittering ripples in the painting.

1. Ships

In the past, a variety of ships reached and left the Tamsui port. Close to the estuary, the large steamship went on a long voyage to foreign countries. Alongside the wharf, the junks headed for the southern coast of China or possibly for the upper reaches of the Tamsui River. With the thumping engine, the small steamboats carried passengers back and forth between Dadaocheng and Tamsui.

2. Lighthouse

With the dazzling white light flashing and eclipsing, the lighthouse which juts out from the shore guides ships reaching or leaving port at night. In the late 18th century, at Shalun, Tamsui, there was already a lighthouse, known as the “Viewing Tower,” built with crowdfunding from local inhabitants. In the late 19th century, due to the frequent shipwrecks of foreign merchant ships, the Qing government built another lighthouse on the shore of Youchekou to mark the shipping lane.

3. Douglas Lapraik & Co.

The two-storied, Western-style building and the comparatively low and long building are the employee dormitory and warehouse of the Douglas Lapraik & Co. During the Japanese colonial period, the government expropriated both buildings for the bachelor quarters of the Post Office. The Douglas Lapraik & Co. once held the monopoly on Taiwan’s external shipping, but it eventually declined in the early 20th century, due to competition from the shipping companies fostered by the Japanese government.

4. Customs Wharf

The land which juts out above the river is the Customs Wharf, built up with the use of earthfill in the early period of Japanese rule; the long buildings are warehouses. When the port was opened to foreign trade, the Tamsui Customs was in charge of collecting customs duties on the merchandise of foreign vessels. Later, the Japanese government continued to expand the size of the wharf. Alongside the wharf there is a series of

5. Beacon Street Section

The winding street, formerly called the Beacon Street Section, is the end of Old Street in Tamsui. In the Qing dynasty, the assembly hall for the navy officers and sailors was located in the neighborhood. Since the port was opened to trade, numerous foreign firms and merchants had been attracted and flocked to this district, where they built warehouses, wharves and offices for the import and export trade of a wide range of commodities.

6. Fort San Domingo

Clear-cut on the distant hill are the contours of the Fort San Domingo’s battlements; the adjacent building with the black roof and red wall must be the British Consulate. Both buildings are important cultural assets of Tamsui Township as they respectively mark the 16th-century Europeans coming into contact with this island and the modern history of Taiwan opening ports to foreign trade.

7. Church Bell Tower

The Bell Tower of the Tamsui Church stands imposingly on the right-hand side of the picture; at the base of the tower, the pattern of the stained glass is the same as ever. In the picturesque scene, it seems that we can faintly hear the ringing of the bell from the tower sending reverberations above the small town. Clearly visible in the foreground is the chimney on the roof of the Mackay clinic. Both historic buildings are still preserved on Mackay Street.

8. Tamsui Prefecture Office

The Japanese-style building with black roof tiles and hankirizuma-zukuri (a clipped gable roof) is the Tamsui Prefecture Office. In 1920, as Tamsui Prefecture was set up, the government worked on building a new administrative center. In the later period of Japanese rule, many public meetings of Tamsui Prefecture were held in this office. The building was demolished after the Nationalist government moved to Taiwan; currently located on the site is the Tamsui Precinct of the New Taipei City Police Department.

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TAIWANfest Toronto is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered here, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples of this land while we engage in meaningful conversations of culture and reconciliation.