Fonds RBSC-ARC-1690 - Ron Bick Lee Fonds

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Ron Bick Lee Fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the fonds.

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Physical description

3.5 m of textual material and other materials.

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Biographical history

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.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual material, graphic material and artifacts related to Ron Bick Lee’s activities as a businessman, a community leader and a member of his immediate and extended families in Vancouver and back in mainland China and Hong Kong. The material includes correspondence, business related documents such as invoices and ledger books, and his community involvement related documents. The material also contains photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, other personal collections such as rubber stamps, birthday congratulations, self-learning notes and so on. Fonds is arranged into series according to the type of documentation: Correspondence, Business documents, Community and political involvement documents, Centennial celebration and other personal documents, Certificates, Newspaper and magazine clippings and Photographs.

Notes area

Physical condition

Some documents have minor rusting from pins, and some incoming correspondence has minor fading of ink.

Immediate source of acquisition

The material was transferred to UBC Rare Books and Special Collections from the UBC Asian Library on July 15, 2011. The UBC Asian Library received the material from the Ron Bick Lee family in two batches, 19 boxes in 2007 followed by another 5 boxes in 2008.


Language of material

  • Chinese
  • English

Script of material

Language and script note

The material is in Chinese and English, with majority of handwritten correspondence and notes in Chinese.

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Finding aids

File list available. Some file titles are in both Chinese and English, in cases where the creator provided Chinese titles on the original file folders. Some file titles contain notes and photographs information if applied.

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No further accruals are expected.

General note

Publications being donated with the collection can be found in the UBC Library catalogue by searching “Ron Bick Lee collection” as keyword. There are approximately 108 titles in total including 2 periodicals.

Physical description

Fonds contains approximately 3.5 m of textual records, ca. 656 photographs, ca. 15 postcards, 1 metal plaque, and 8 rubber stamps. Textual records include correspondence, business records, personal documents, various ephemera and approximately 130 certificates.


The donor has transferred all rights to the University of British Columbia.

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