- Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
- Victoria Chinese Canadian Veterans Association
- Chinese Public School
- Clan Associations
- County Assocations
- Dialect Assocations
- Friendship Associations
- Political Organizations
- Recreational Associations
- Religious Organizations
- Women's Associations
- Other Organizations
- Prominent Visitors
- Local Leaders
David T. H. Lee (Li Donghai)
Portrait of David Lee, date unknown (Photo courtesy of Kent Lee).
David T. H. Lee (Li Donghai, 1915-1988) was not only an active leader of Victoria’s Chinese community but also the author of the first Chinese book on Chinese Canadian history. Lee was born to a migrant family in Shuilou Township of Taishan county, which provided a significant number of immigrants to Victoria. David Lee’s grandfather, Li Yiyou (1856-1925), went to Portland in 1880 and worked there as a laundryman for nearly thirty years. Li Yiyou returned to Taishan in 1908 and operated family businesses there. David Lee’s father, Li Shiliang (aka Li Binqiu or Lee Pin-ch’iu, 1888-1935) inherited and expanded the family businesses in Taishan county, and he also became a well-known educator in the county.
David Lee, principal of the Chinese Public School, with a student (Photo courtesy of Kent Lee).
David Lee (on the right in the back row) with other leaders of the Chinese Nationalist League in Victoria, date unknown (Photo courtesy of Kent Lee).
A leader of the CCBA in Victoria, David Lee gave a speech at the annual meeting of the national headquarters of the Chinese benevolent associations in Vancouver, 1982 (Photo courtesy of Kent Lee).
David Lee received his post-secondary education in Nanjing, Beijing, Tianjin and other large cities of China, and he eventually received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Xiamen University. Lee’s teaching activities spread from China and Southeast Asia to North America. Between 1937 and 1939, he was the director of studies (jiaowuzhang) at Guangfu School of Singapore but later returned to Taishan county as a teacher during the Sino-Japanese War. Lee and his family moved to Hong Kong after the communist takeover of mainland China, and he later moved from Hong Kong to Canada when he came to teach at Victoria’s Chinese Public School in 1953. He was the principal of the school from 1953 to 1966, and also served as a translator, editor, and chief editor for Chinese newspapers in Victoria, Vancouver, and New York, including the well-known New Republic that was based first in Victoria and then in Vancouver. One of David Lee’s greatest contributions to Canadian multiculturalism was probably his book, Jianada Huaqiao shi (A history of Chinese in Canada), published in 1967.
In additional to his educational and cultural activities, David Lee was active in varied Chinese community and political organizations in Victoria and across Canada. He served as the secretary of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association for ten years, as one of its directors for more than thirty years, and as vice president in 1983-84. Lee was also an active leader in the Lee associations in Victoria and Vancouver, the Hoy Sun Benevolent Association for Taishan immigrants in Victoria, and in the Chinese Nationalist League in Victoria and at the national level.
By Zhongping Chen
David Lee fonds, box 1, folder 41, and box 2, folder 3, University of Victoria Archives.