CHOIE SEW HOY
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND
The intention of this tour is to take you on a journey of Dunedin, with a focus on landmarks important to Choie Sew Hoy. We want you to be able to actually visit and see the important locations related to Choie Sew Hoy, and give you some history of his arrival in both a simple and memorable way.
A very special thank you to Trevor/Jenny Agnew, who graciously supplied this website with a very comprehensive amount of time and detail. Without their help, the walking tour would not be in the complete form it is today.
Below: 798 Cumberland St., Dunedin is the original location of "Canton Villa," Choie Sew Hoy and Eliza Prescott's home.
Below: You should be looking at a block of brown flats. The flats replaced "Canton Villa", which was knocked down in 1976. This is the original site of Choie Sew Hoy's home (note: it is NOT the blue villa on 802 Cumberland street, - both properties had the same lot number in earlier years).
Below: A picture of the original "Canton Villa". The original address when Choie Sew Hoy bought the property was 327 Cumberland Street, until street numbers were re-numbered some time after the year 1905 to 798 Cumberland, as it stands today (hence the below photo being taken after 1905 as it's letterbox says 798)
Below 1902: See below the villa's old numbering. It would be renumbered only a few years later to 798 Cumberland.
Below: An Evening Star 1978 advertisement, - "Canton Cottage": Choie Sew Hoy arrived in New Zealand in 1868 aged ~30, and started his business in Dunedin 150 years ago in 1869 hence the reunion. He bought Canton Villa in 1875, and this advertisement below shows him owning it in 1878, having originally called it "Canton Cottage".
Below: A drainage map showing Canton Villa in 1905, which displays it's old Street number 327. It was the third house down, and had a garden out back
Map source: Chis Scott (DCC Archivist), investigated by Janice / Peter Sew Hoy (G32, P50) and Trevor Agnew (G32, P28)
Interesting point: Choie Sew Hoy's first wife (Soy Young May) did not come to New Zealand. In 1875 when Sew Hoy purchased the property, Eliza was only 6 years old. He must have lived there earlier with his first two sons, young Kum Yok and Kum Poy, until his (defacto) marriage to Eliza sometime later in the circa mid-late 1880's.
Below: A photo of Choie Sew Hoy and Eliza Ann Sew Hoy (Prescott), circa late 1880's - 1890. (Source: Webbs Auction). Eliza would have been approximately 18 to 21 years old.
Choie Sew Hoy's Death (1901)
Below: An obituary with a little creative flair from the writer. Interestingly, it mentions that Choie Sew Hoy went from China to California about 1851. If this were the case, he would have been about 13 years old when he left his home, to California then Victoria, before arriving in Dunedin at 30 years old, 1868.
Below: A Photo of Eliza, Violet and Henry, perhaps at the time of Choie Sew Hoy's Death (1901)
Below, Feb 1913: After Choie Sew Hoy and Eliza Prescott's death (in 1901 & 1909), the surviving descendants made the decision to sell off Canton Villa via auction.
Further Walking Directions: Walk a few metres to the The All Saints' Church, a couple of properties South. This is where Violet Sew Hoy and John Trengrove got married, and where Choie Sew Hoy helped provide refreshements to firefighers as the parsonage burned down.
Below: Choie Sew Hoy donated to the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue Fund (an inflation adjusted $1000 donation). This is further evidence of his generosity across a number of different charities/areas. He donated on April 1901, and died July 1901, so his donation was made just months before his death. The statue was unveiled in 1905, so Choie Sew Hoy never got to see it unveiled.
Below, December 1874: This is how Dunedin city looked in 1874, five years after Choie Sew Hoy arrived. Notice how close the wharf is to Princes street.
Below: The Dunedin Stock Exchange in 1902 (demolished in 1969 to make way for John Wickliffe House)
The Exchange is relevant because Choie Sew Hoy listed two mining companies on the Dunedin Stock Exchange, the Shotover Big Beach Mining Company (The prefix "Shotover" later changed to "Sew Hoy Big Beach Mining" and listed in 1888), and the Nokomai Hydraulic Sluicing Company (listed ten years later, in 1898). Despite the building being demolished in the 1960s, the location was still known as The Exchange.
Below: A picture of The Exchange in the 1940's