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, was called Mr. Yip since Yip was his surname. His generation name was Kew, shared by his eighteen brothers, like Yip Kew Shim. Dock was his personal name.

In Canada, people often followed Western practice and changed the traditional Chinese name order by putting their given names before their surnames. This is what Yip Kew Dock did. He used the Westernized name order of Kew Dock Yip. He was called Dock by his friends.

Excerpted from The Chinese Community in Toronto: Then and Now by Arlene Chan, published by Dundurn Press. Copyright © 2013 by Arlene Chan

See also: http://www.roadtojustice.ca/first-lawyers/kew-dock-yip