Family and County Associations

Chinese immigrants with the same surname formed family associations. Among the early family associations were the Li She Kong So (Lee Association) and Lem Si Ho Tong (Lem Society) that can still be found in Chinatown. Another long-standing association is Lung Kong Kung So whose membership is made up of people with four surnames: Liu […]

The Kwong Chow Restaurant

Jean and Doyle decided to open a restaurant, rather than continue the grocery store. In 1959, they opened the restaurant in downtown Chinatown and called it Kwong Chow, named after a city in China – famous for its Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant was successful for many years and attracted well-known people over the years from […]

Chinese Immigration Act, C.I. 5 Certificate #88549

“Head tax certificates were required for all Chinese immigrants as proof of their payment for entry into Canada.  Officially called C.I. 5 certificates, “C.I.” an abbreviation for Chinese Immigration, these were issued by the federal authorities to show the amount of the head tax and the port and date of arrival.  An official stamp was […]

What’s In a Name?

Chinese names consist of three parts: the surname and two given names. The surname appears first. One of the two given names is a generation name that is usually shared by others born in the same generation such as brothers and cousins. The other is a personal name.  Yip Kew Dock, Canada’s first Chinese-Canadian lawyer, […]

No Ticket, No Laundry

The early Chinese worked in laundries. Why was this such a popular business among the Chinese? First, there was a huge demand from people who needed to have their clothes washed and ironed. There were no washers and dryers in those days. Secondly, no one else wanted to go into the laundry business. Sixteen to […]

Immigration Reform and Family Reunification 1

Jean gained a national profile through her work in challenging discriminatory immigration legislation. For twenty-four years, the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, halted the entry of Chinese into Canada. The result was a bachelor society, absent of women and children. After this legislation was repealed in 1947, there was hope […]

A Passport of First World War Canadians

Nothing would stop Wee Tan Louie from volunteering in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, an astonishing display of patriotism and commitment to equal rights at a time when racial discrimination was at its height in British Columbia ̶ disenfranchisement, the head tax, and countless other anti-Chinese laws. Rejected by the army because he was Chinese (although […]

A Prescription For Living 2

When Canada joined Britain and France in the war against Germany, the Chinese across Canada were strongly divided. Should they volunteer to fight for a country that treated them so poorly? On the other hand, the war opened a door for them to prove their patriotism and ultimately gain the right to vote. To this […]

The Last Spike

“In 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed.  The driving of the last spike at Craigellachie, British Columbia, took place on the cold morning of November 7 at 9:22 a.m. This historical event was attended by a crowd of politicians and other dignitaries. Donald Alexander Smith, Canadian Pacific Railway director, raised and struck his hammer […]

Save Chinatown Committee

In the late 1960s, Jean helped in a campaign to save Toronto’s Chinatown. She was in charge of representatives from over 40 Chinese organizations who went to City Hall to save their Chinatown. Wealthy Save Chinatown Committee with their own ideas about improving the downtown area wanted to tear it down and build expensive high-rise […]