"The Panama" chronicles the Chan family of Victoria, B.C. as it evolved from its first days in Canada when the patriarch Chan Dun, at the age of twelve, landed in Victoria in 1890. From this auspicious occasion, a family of eight sons and four daughters would eventually center around the Panama café, a western-style eatery specializing in liver and onions and apple pie to the working class of the city.
Located on Government Street by 1930, The Panama café is a story of one of the oldest Chinese Canadian families. It describes its experience during the depression, the war years and finally the 1960s when it closed its doors for good because of the fast food competition emerging in the city.
In "The Panama," we meet 85-year-old Steven Chan, the eldest son whose marriage to Rosy Wing from Vancouver in 1932 was celebrated in a community known more for bachelors and gambling than marriage and family. Steven's brothers and their wives are also introduced as well as his oldest daughter, Benita. Four of the brothers fought for Canada in Borneo and India during World War II. Daughter Benita talks about growing up in the restaurant among her grandparents and many aunts and uncles during the 1930s and 1940s.