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Wallace Bakfu Chung was born in Victoria on November 1, 1925. After graduating from Victoria High School in 1945, Dr. Chung attended Victoria College and the University of British Columbia, before being accepted to McGill University’s School of Medicine in 1949. After graduating from McGill University in 1953, Dr. Chung moved to Vancouver to complete a medical residency at Vancouver General Hospital. In 1958, he was appointed Chief Resident at Vancouver General Hospital, and in 1959 entered medical practice, where he specialised in vascular surgery. Soon thereafter, Dr. Wallace Chung began teaching at the University of British Columbia, and became a full Professor of Surgery in 1972. Dr. Chung was appointed Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia Hospital in 1980, a post he held for nearly 10 years before retiring in 1991.
Dr. Madeline Chung (née Huang) was born in Shanghai, China, and was raised in Hong Kong. She graduated from Yale Medical Mission in Hunan, China in 1948, before immigrating to North America for a medical internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria. Her next internship was at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal, where she met Dr. Wallace Chung in October 1949. The two were married on June 7, 1953 in Seattle, Washington, where Dr. Madeline Chung’s grandmother lived. Dr. Madeline Chung then returned to Rochester, Minnesota to complete a medical residency in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Mayo Clinic. She then moved to Vancouver to join her husband in 1954, where she worked as a pathologist before opening her own medical practice in 1956. She became a Clinical Instructor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine in 1964, was promoted to Clinical Assistant Professor in 1979, and became Clinical Associate Professor in 1990. For a time the only Chinese-speaking obstetrician in Vancouver, she delivered over 7,200 babies before her retirement in 1995.
Drs. Wallace and Madeline Chung were among the first Chinese-Canadians to pursue careers in medicine. When Dr. Wallace Chung arrived in 1953, there were only 7 doctors of Chinese ancestry practising in Vancouver, while Dr. Madeline Chung was the first Chinese-Canadian and the first female obstetrician in British Columbia. Together they had two children, Maria and Stephen, both of whom followed their parents into medicine.
Drs. Wallace and Madeline Chung have both contributed extensively to their community. Dr. Wallace Chung was a member of numerous cultural boards, including the Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre, the International Dragon Boat Society, the British Columbia Heritage Trust, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and the Canadian Multiculturalism Council, where he helped draft the 1988 Multiculturalism Act. He also served as Governor of the American College of Surgeons, President of the Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery, and Director of the B.C. Cancer Society. He was awarded a 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal (1992), a UBC Honorary Alumnus Award (2002), the Order of Canada (2005) and the Order of British Columbia (2006). Dr. Madeline Chung was a founding member of the True Light Chinese School in Vancouver, where she served as superintendent for 21 years and as treasurer for 27. She was made an honorary Life Member of the British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (1999).
Dr. Wallace Chung began collecting the items in the Chung Collection as a child, inspired by a poster of the Canadian Pacific steamship Empress of Asia that hung in his father’s tailor shop in Victoria. He began collecting newspaper clippings and Canadian Pacific Railway pamphlets in 1931, although he soon set aside this hobby to focus on his education. He rekindled his interest in Canadian Pacific Railway materials in the 1960s, once he had finished school and begun working. He soon became known among booksellers and dealers as a serious collector. Thanks to these established relationships, Dr. Chung was frequently contacted by dealers about items that would fit into his collection. His interest in the Canadian Pacific Railway grew to include Chinese Canadian immigration and British Columbia history, as he became interested in tracing his father’s and grandfather’s journeys from China to Canada. Dr. Chung donated this extensive collection to the University of British Columbia Library in 1999, saying, “We are giving the collection to UBC so as many people as possible can have the opportunity to understand and appreciate the struggles and joys of those who have come before them.” Other parts of Dr. Chung’s collection may be found at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.