The southern Guangdong county of Kaiping or Hoy Ping (in Cantonese) or Hoy Heng (in Taishanese/ Kaipingnese), along with it’s neighbouring counties of Yenping, Sun Wui and Toishan (Enping, Xinhui and Taishan), was the region where many of the early Chinese to North America originated. Collectively, they were known as Siyi or Sei-yup (in Cantonese) – the “four counties”.
It is from the four counties, that many of the Diaolou hail from. In particular, the county of Kaiping.
Kaiping’s history is relatively recent. The name Kaiping literally translated means “Open Peace”.
According to an old Vancouver Kaiping book I found in our family’s possession, written almost entirely in Chinese, I found a single lone page describing Kaiping in English. It had been written by a Harry James based on information he had received from a Seto Gock on April 18, 1946. The entire commemorative book is a great snapshot of the life of Vancouver’s Chinatown just shortly after the end of the Second World War – with profiles of Canadian and Chinese leaders, business ads, old maps and names with photos of prominent Kaiping persons then living in and around Vancouver Canada.
Here, in part, is the introductory paragraph of Hoy Ping, from this 60+ year old publication:
The district of Hoy Ping in Kwangtung Province was formed a little over 400 years ago from land which was formerly parts of the districts of Sun woy, Hoy Han, and Yen Ping. It is somewhat cone-shaped with the most irregular boundaries, being larger at the north end and tapering off almost to a point at the south. Its area is about 160 square miles and is bounded on the north-east by the districts of Hock Shan and Sun Hing, on the west by Yen Ping and in the east by Hoy Shan and Sun Woy. Before the formulation of the district, the area was infested by Bandits and the territory had to be “opened up” to expose and disperse them.
It is interesting to note that this piece along with other references I’ve come across as identifying this Kaiping area as “lawless” “no man’s land” up until relatively recent times.
The entire page has been scanned here for your reference: