Cape Breton ruins suggest early Chinese presence: author
Interview Transcript
Network: CTV
Time: 08:46:25 ET - End Time: 08:50:25 ET

THOMSON: Toronto architect Paul Chiasson was hiking in Cape Breton when he stumbled upon an ancient road that led to mysterious ruins. Researching those ruins became his obsession and led him to a startling conclusion: that the first settlers in Canada were Chinese. He has laid out the evidence in a new book called "The Island of Seven Cities". Paul Chiasson joins us in studio this morning.

And really launching your book right here, right now.

CHIASSON: This is the first major -- I've done some interviews but they are pre-interviews, so they will be coming out later. But this is the first major interview countrywide.

THOMSON: Well, this is going to shake up history.

CHIASSON: Well, it's already started to. People have known about this now for about 18 months. And I spoke about it about 12 months ago actually, at the Library of Congress. But this the first time that all of the information is in one place so people can actually read it.

THOMSON: Well, and even on the front of the book it says: "If it's true the find would rank among the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time."

So, let's talk about those discoveries. Because it's an area that you were familiar with as a child, but at one point you just became a little bit more interested. Tell me what it was that you were looking at or that you found.

CHIASSON: Well, I was born in Cape Breton. And I've visited there regularly. My folks still live there. I found an old road on the side of a mountain, a place where it shouldn't have been. Because it wasn't just a farmer's road. There were peculiarities about it. It was well surfaced, it had been well made in the distant past. It looked like something that some organization or government had made. So, I started to do the research in that area.

THOMSON: And this is the area right here?

CHIASSON: That's the road, yeah, that's part of the road. And this is on the side of the mountain. There's 9 kilometres of it. There are the remains of stone walls on both sides. The measurement fits within Chinese parameters.

If it was only the road that would be one thing --

THOMSON: In and of itself. But it was a lot more than that.

CHIASSON: Oh, it was a lot more than that. When I first found the road I started to research the history of the area, the early history, the early documents, the early maps, the early reports and letters. And I realized, as they did, that ruins were reported on this island very early, before the age of discovery, that English and Portuguese kings sent out mariners to find this island. It was an important piece of politics, an important piece of navigation.

And when I visited the site for the first time I realized that there were ruins there. They were odd ruins. They were non-European-looking. And as an architect I started to research what kind of civilization could have left very specifically these kinds of ruins. And all directions pointed, including the cut stones that you see, over and over and over again the roads, there is a --

THOMSON: And these also gave you the idea in the research that directed you to Chinese culture because of the way these were cut.

CHIASSON: And most specifically the way that the wall is made, the large wall, and the way that the, there's a town site inside. And there are regular, rectangular stone platforms built into the hillside. And you can just see on this aerial photo -- this is an aerial photo taken in 1929 and you can see it better in the book -- but there's a large wall built basically just off the summit of a mountaintop in the wilderness in the middle of Cape Breton that has never been shown in European history. There's no record of this in European history.

THOMSON: Well, what happens to people that are true to John Cabot in 1497? You know, what about that story? How would he --

CHIASSON: That was a great story, because Cabot became one of the heroes of this story, I think, because he was one of the greatest navigators of his generation, one of the greatest navigators. He was born in Genoa, trained in Venice --

THOMSON: But you believe he could have found out about --

CHIASSON: Absolutely, because he travelled, unlike other people, European peoples at the time, he travelled through the Mediterranean. He was in Alexandria. He had travelled as far south as Mecca and could have done a crossover very easily with Chinese mariners in Mecca to find out [overtalk] --

THOMSON: So he could have had the information from them and --

CHIASSON: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

THOMSON: It's a fascinating book. And there's not enough time to go through all of it.

CHIASSON: There isn't enough time. We'll do this again. We'll do this again.

THOMSON: But good luck with the rest of the launch.

CHIASSON: Thank you very much.

THOMSON: Thank you for launching on Canada AM. Appreciate your time.

CHIASSON: Thank you. And thanks for inviting me.

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Broadcast Date : Tuesday May 2, 2006