Fonds RBSC-ARC-1849 - Lock Tin Lee fonds

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Lock Tin Lee fonds

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1.6 m of textual records and other material

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Biographical history

Henry Lock Tin Lee (李樂天, 李濟寬) was born in Taishan county, Guangdong, China. In October 1926, Lee officially enlisted in the Kuomintang (KMT), otherwise known as the Guomindang (GMD) or the Chinese Nationalist Party. He briefly attended the Republic of China Military Academy (黃埔陸軍軍官學校) in 1927 as part of the infantry division. With an academic background in education, Lee taught in elementary schools from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s in China.

Lee arrived in Canada in 1937. His wife, Gin Shew San (甄秀珊), remained in Taishan with their two children, both then recently born. Upon arrival, Lee served as a teacher in the Vancouver Chinese Public School; he also taught at the Chinese Public Schools in Nanaimo and Victoria, moving between cities as needed. In 1944, Lee remarried and settled with Annie Lore (羅巧鶯), a Chinese Canadian who resided in British Columbia. Together, they had four more children. On December 20, 1952, Lee formally received Canadian citizenship.

In 1952 and 1957, Lee was consecutively elected as a representative for the 7th and 8th National Congresses of the Kuomintang. He further served as a delegate for the overseas Chinese at the National Assembly, the constitutional convention and presidential electoral college of the Republic of China, in 1954 and 1960. Prior to his successful election as a National Assembly representative, Lee fulfilled numerous positions related to the KMT, public school education, and various associations for the overseas Chinese. Some of these included: standing committee member of the Chinese Nationalist League of Canada (Vancouver Branch); executive committee member of the Chinese Nationalist League of Canada (Western Branch); managing director for the Canadian branch of the Overseas Chinese Education Association; teacher and Disciplinary Officer for the Vancouver Chinese Public School; Director of Lee's Benevolent Association of Canada and Chairman of the Association’s Vancouver branch. He also worked as a secretary and publicity officer for the Chinese Nationalist League of Canada and was an editor of the newspaper The New Republic (新民國報).

Ever prolific in his roles, Lee was additionally a member of the Chinese Nationalist League of Canada (Headquarters) executive committee and a member of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Canada. He also served as part of the KMT central renovation committee and was the Chairman of the Victoria Chinese Benevolent Association. Furthermore, he was the executive director for the Federation of Overseas Chinese Association and an honorary director for the Free China Relief Association.

Lee was also a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. He was a lifelong learner and practitioner of the discipline, advancing his studies well into at least his fifties despite having already obtained numerous diplomas and certificates prior. In 1964, he was appointed as an honorary consultant for the National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine.

Despite his deteriorating health in later years after suffering a stroke, Lee persisted in many of his duties and was an active presence both abroad and in the overseas Chinese Canadian community. Lee passed away on January 21, 1980. His death received formal condolences from the KMT and was mourned by many in the local community. His funeral was held on February 1, 1980 by the funeral committee jointly formed by Lee’s Benevolent Association of Canada and the Chinese Nationalist League of Canada.

Custodial history

Records were donated to UBC by Lock Tin Lee’s family at the encouragement of Dr. Henry Yu (INSTRCC Director, Associate Professor of History, St. John’s College Principal, and Centre for Asian Canadian Research and Engagement Co-Lead at the University of British Columbia), a friend of the Lee family.

One portion of the records were donated by Steven Lee, Lock Tin Lee’s son, to the University of British Columbia Asian Library in approximately 2010. Further boxes of records were deposited to the University of British Columbia Asian Library in 2019 by Christina Lee, Lock Tin Lee’s daughter. Material in the fonds were transferred to the University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Collections in 2023.

Scope and content

The fonds contains records pertinent to Lock Tin Lee’s functions as a KMT member, a public school educator, his personal life, and his overall involvement in organizations and affairs concerning the overseas Chinese. Lee’s records offer insight into the political aspirations of the Kuomintang amidst the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Cold War, the Chinese Civil War, and beyond; the public education scene for Chinese Canadians in British Columbia; and the lived experiences of the overseas Chinese in 20th century Canada.

Records predominantly range from Lee’s earlier years in China in the 1920s until his death in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1980. Records include reports, correspondence, notebooks, receipts and invoices, maps, books and bound material, newspapers, greeting cards, song sheets, business cards, badges and memorabilia, stamps and plaques, photographs, poems, flag textiles, and more. Many of these records were created in British Columbia, Canada, but others were generated in the process of Lee’s travels to other countries (predominantly Taiwan) or were received by Lee from other individuals and organizations based outside of British Columbia or Canada. Some records were generated or received by Lee’s family members.

The fonds consists of five series: KMT, affiliated organizations and other associations; Personal records and relationships; Public school education; Personal library; and Photographs. Many of Lee’s records are functionally and thematically interrelated across the five series and between files.

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  • Chinese
  • English

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No further accruals are expected.

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Select file names for associations and organizations were given generalized and/or centralized titles to accommodate the multitude of subdivisions, branches, or very functionally similar groups that had slight name variations.

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Content Warning: Box 16 contains newspaper clippings that show images of victims of a shooting.

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1132 photographs : prints and negatives, 13 flags, 10 pins, 2 stamps, 2 metal plaques

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Finding aid produced by Lily Liu, December 2023.

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