Title and statement of responsibility area
Larry Wong fonds
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[190-?] - [before 2023], predominantly from 1960 - [before 2023] (Creation)
- Wong, Larry
Physical description area
875 photographs and other materials
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Larry Wong was born in Vancouver’s Chinatown on August 14, 1938, one of the last babies to be delivered by a midwife in Chinatown. Wong is the sixth and youngest child of Wong Mow and Mark Oy Quon [Lee Shee]. Wong’s mother died when he was 18 months old and his father died when he was 28. Wong had five older siblings, Yung Git, Ching Won, Yung Wah, Mee Won, and Won Jin Lee (Jennie). Ching Won and Mee Won died before Wong was born. Yung Git died of tuberculosis when Wong was only four years old. Wong was closest to Jennie despite their seven-year age gap. Wong’s father was a tailor and the family lived in a small space in the back of his father’s shop on Main Street between Hastings and Pender.
Wong attended Strathcona School and Vancouver Technical High School. His first job was in a bowling alley, working as a pin boy. Later, Wong earned cash in a used car lot, washing cars inside and out. After graduation from high school, Wong did not have enough money to go directly to university. He worked for an English language news magazine called Chinatown News for two years. He started out selling advertising, and was later promoted to head of layout and design. Eventually Wong saved enough to enroll at the University of British Columbia where he studied psychology and creative writing; however, he dropped out after only two years. Wong decided that although he wanted to become a writer, university wasn’t the best way to approach it. Unsure of what he wanted to do, he accepted a job at Canada Post. He started as a clerk, filling out order forms, moved up to sorting mail, and later worked the front counter. When Wong was 34 years old, he was hired to work as an auditor for Canada Post in Toronto. After twelve years, Wong left Canada Post and began working with Employment and Immigration Canada. He was transferred back to Vancouver in the 1980s, retiring in 1994 after thirty years of service. After retirement, Wong threw himself into volunteering with various history groups. He helped establish both the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia and the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society, interviewing elderly Chinese residents and war veterans to record their stories. Wong appeared in several documentaries and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines. He arranged for exhibitions of artifacts and photographs to help showcase the story of Chinese Canadians. In retirement, Wong became a member of the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop and wrote a one-act play, Siu Yeh (Midnight Snack), which was produced at the Firehall Art Centre in 1995. In 2001, he gave a workshop at Historic Joy Kogawa House on writing family stories, with former writer-in-residence Susan Crean. Wong was also the writer, researcher and co-host, along with Nancy Li, for Rogers’ Cable Chinatown Today and served on the boards of Tamahnous Theatre, the Federation of B.C. Writers, the Westcoast Book Prize Society and the Vancouver Public Library, One Book, One Vancouver.
In 2011, Wong published his book Dim Sum Stories: A Chinatown Childhood in which he writes about growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 1940s and 1950s. Dim Sum Stories started off as a the one-act play called Sui Ye (Midnight Snack) before fellow Vancouver writer Jim Wong-Chu encouraged him to turn it into a book of short stories.
Larry Wong passed away on September 2, 2023 in Vancouver.
Prior to their donation and transfer to UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, records were in the custody of Wong’s power of attorney, and subsequently stored at St. John’s College, UBC.
Scope and content
The fonds consists primarily of records relating to two specific areas of Larry Wong’s life – his writing and his interest in Chinese-Canadian History. Wong’s writings date as far back as his university days through to the publication of his book Dim Sum Stories: A Chinatown Childhood in 2011. Records reflect Wong’s time as the Director of the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society and as a tour guide through Vancouver’s Chinatown. The fonds also includes personal documents and ephemera, including information relating to the immigration of both of his parents from China.
The fonds is divided into three series: Writings, Chinese-Canadian History and Personal documents and ephemera. Records consist of short stories, university writing assignments, newspaper articles, book proposals, screenplays, biographies, published works, grant applications, newspaper clippings, stamps, magazine articles, Cantonese language course materials, photographs, negatives, slides, photograph albums, scrapbooks, CDs, DVDs, a beret, pins, correspondence, report cards, certificates, magazine articles, journals, diaries, newspaper clippings, a chapbook, postcards, telegrams, cufflinks, a clothing pattern, a shadow box, and a medal.
Immediate source of acquisition
All records were donated through Wong’s power of attorney.
There was no apparent order for the majority of the materials; therefore the archivist arranged the records. Once arranged into series, records were generally kept in the order in which the materials were found.
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Restrictions on access
File 04-10 and File 08-03 are restricted through December 31, 2033 at the request of the donor.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Generated finding aid
No further accruals are expected.
Select records are available digitally. Contact circulation staff for access.
875 photographs: 488: col, 387: b&w
85.5 cm of textual records
75 negative strips
2 contact sheets
1 pair of shoelaces
1 shadow box
1 set of cufflinks
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Finding aid produced by Catherine Hall, June 2023.