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- Lee, Yat Yee
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Ron Bick Lee (born Yat Yee Lee), also known as Bick Lee, was a Chinese Canadian pioneer, a successful businessman and community leader. Bick Lee was born in 1892 in Ong Sum Village, Toisan, Guangdong, China. He left his hometown for Canada in 1911. First landed in Victoria, BC working as a dishwasher, he moved to Vancouver in 1916 and worked at the historic White Lunch Restaurant. By 1921, Bick Lee had gained ample experience and sufficient capital to found Foo Hung Co. Ltd., his own importing and exporting company of Asian goods in Vancouver. The sister company, Foo Hung Hong Kong operated by his brother Yick Bun Lee was the main supplier of Bick Lee’s business in Vancouver. Foo Hung soon became one of the leading importers of Asian goods in Canada. In 1933, Bick Lee purchased a greenhouse business in east Vancouver and successfully operated the Grandview Greenhouses business and the Foo Hung business during the Depression. Bick Lee also had various other business partners in North America, China mainland and Hong Kong.
With a strong commitment to serve the community, Bick Lee led the fund-raising and re-construction projects of the Vancouver Chinese Public School and served as the school chairman for several terms. He was also the chairman of the Lee’s Association in North America for a term. As a supporter and leader, Bick Lee was involved with several other associations including Chinese Merchants’ Association, Toi San Benevolent Society and Chinese Social Development Society. Bick Lee was also an active member of Kuomintang Party in Vancouver, and he supported the Party financially during wartime.
Bick Lee married to Gin King Choon from a village near his own back in China in 1914 through a pre-arranged marriage. Because of the immigration restrictions in Canada at that time, Mrs. Lee did not get to immigrate to Canada till 1928. The couple had seven children altogether (4 sons and 3 daughters) in Canada. Bick Lee was committed to supporting and helping his own and his wife’s extended families in mainland China and Hong Kong. Bick Lee passed away on December 22, 1994 in Vancouver, BC, at the age of 104.
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Davis, Chuck. n.d. The History of Metropolitan Vancouver. Retrieved on August 31, 2011 from http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/whoswho_L.htm#top