Happy Birthday! It was Canada’s Centennial, its 100th anniversary as a country. A grand celebration was organized for June 30 and July 1, 1967, in Ottawa for Canadians and for Her Majesty, the Queen.
The Chinese Community Dancers of Ontario, a dance group that Jean had formed, was chosen to perform for the celebration in Ottawa. “I can’t go,” was Jean’s first reaction. “My son, Doug, is getting married that day.” John Fisher, known as “Mr. Canada” because he wrote and told stories about the history of Canada, insisted, “Jean, you have to go. It’s a command performance for the Queen!”
A private airplane was arranged for Jean and her three daughters. “In one day we were in Ottawa dancing for the show. I was presented to the Queen at 3 PM,” she remembers. “Then we had to rush off to catch the plane to Toronto for Doug’s wedding that evening at 7 PM. The next morning, we were back in Ottawa for the July 1st performance.” Jean’s mother, so proud of her daughter, told her, “The sky opened and let you into heaven.”
Excerpted from Spirit of the Dragon by Arlene Chan, published by Umbrella Press. Copyright © 1997 by Arlene Chan
Image Credit: Jean Lumb Collection