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The Shon Yee Benevolent Association

Shon Yee Benevolent Association sign

A Zhongshan County Association of Fraternal Members

The Shon Yee Association is one of the two major societies in Victoria that welcome members specifically from the Zhongshan County of the Guangdong Province in South China. The other association is the Hook Sin Tong Charity Association, a county-level native place organization. In its structure as a fraternal organization for people from the same county, the Shon Yee Benevolent Association is similar to the Chinese Freemasons. The first Shon Yee Association in Canada was founded in Vancouver around 1914, followed by the Victoria branch in 1918 and the Calgary branch in 1923. The Shon Yee Association was established to provide a social venue, recreation, and support for members who endured misfortune.

The founders of the Shon Yee Association in 1919. In the back row, from left to right:   Yang Linguang, Lei Gen, Sun Peiquan, Lin Sanhe. Seated in the front, from left to right: Li Yuchang, Lin Rixuan, Fan Changmin, Hong Maochang (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

The founders of the Shon Yee Association in 1919. In the back row, from left to right: Yang Linguang, Lei Gen, Sun Peiquan, Lin Sanhe. Seated in the front, from left to right: Li Yuchang, Lin Rixuan, Fan Changmin, Hong Maochang (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

This is a congratulatory message sent from the Vancouver headquarters of the Shon Yee Association to the Victoria branch at its opening. The message can be translated as: The Shon Yee Association is established and will lead in culture. This new branch is opened to bring our people together. Be active in charity and help those who are less fortunate. Carry out the duties of the association and prosper as the days go on (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

This is a congratulatory message sent from the Vancouver headquarters of the Shon Yee Association to the Victoria branch at its opening. The message can be translated as: The Shon Yee Association is established and will lead in culture. This new branch is opened to bring our people together. Be active in charity and help those who are less fortunate. Carry out the duties of the association and prosper as the days go on (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

The Shon Yee Association in Victoria began with about 100 members and rented meeting space under the Dart Coon Club. When it was founded, the Shon Yee Association was closely allied with the Chinese Freemasons (known at the time in Victoria as the Chee Kung Tong). In 1935, the Shon Yee Association purchased the western section of the Lee’s Association Building at 612 ½ Fisgard Street. Rental income from this and other properties (for example, the association owns QV’s restaurant at the corner of Government and Fisgard streets) have provided funds for recreational activities, housing for seniors and emergency relief.

The Shon Yee Association currently has a membership of about 80 people, the majority of whom are over 60 years old. The association cooperates closely with the Hook Sin Tong Charity Association, maintains ties with the Vancouver branch of the Shon Yee Association through yearly conventions, and supports the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. The Shon Yee Association funds a scholarship at the Chinese Public School, and raises money for the United Way, the Chinese Canadian Friendship Association, and community improvement. The association provides a cultural and recreational venue for members, who enjoy table tennis, kung fu, Chinese opera and lion dancing at the club.

By Chen and Yang

Interview with the Shon Yee Association

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This is the meeting room of the Shon Yee Association, looking towards Fisgard Street to the southwest. The Association has historically promoted physical recreation among its members, who can still visit the club for a game of table tennis (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

This is the meeting room of the Shon Yee Association, looking towards Fisgard Street to the southwest. The Association has historically promoted physical recreation among its members, who can still visit the club for a game of table tennis (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

This is a congratulatory message sent from the Calgary branch to the Victoria branch (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

This is a congratulatory message sent from the Calgary branch to the Victoria branch (Photo by Charles Yang, July 2011).

This document confirms the incorporation of the (Vancouver Branch) of the Shon Yee Benevolent Association on 29 September 1919 (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583).

This document confirms the incorporation of the (Vancouver Branch) of the Shon Yee Benevolent Association on 29 September 1919 (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583).

This document outlines the objects of the Shon Yee Benevolent Association in Vancouver and lists the first directors or trustees (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583)

This document outlines the objects of the Shon Yee Benevolent Association in Vancouver and lists the first directors or trustees (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583)

This certificate, dated 16 February 1987, outlines how the Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada has defined the new goals of the organization (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583)

This certificate, dated 16 February 1987, outlines how the Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada has defined the new goals of the organization (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583)

This resolution passed under the Society Act of British Columbia on 20 November 2005 defines the independent powers of the Victoria Branch of the Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada (originally founded in 1918), in relation to finances and local decision-making (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583)

This resolution passed under the Society Act of British Columbia on 20 November 2005 defines the independent powers of the Victoria Branch of the Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada (originally founded in 1918), in relation to finances and local decision-making (BC Registry Services, Society files no. S583)


Sources

“About Us,” Shon Yee Benevolent Association, http://shonyee.com/Aboutus.html (accessed 25 November 2012)

Amos, Robert and Kileasa Wong. Inside Chinatown: Ancient Culture in a New World. Victoria: TouchWood Editions, 2009.

“Downtown 100: Who Owns What – Part Two (Final Edition),” Times Colonist, Victoria, BC, 17 June 2001, D5, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/docview/345830498 (accessed 25 November 2012).

“Interview with the Shon Yee Association,” Interviewers: Zhongping Chen, Charles Yang; Interviewees: Paul Lum, Kennie Chee, Brian Fong, Philip Lee, Don Ko, 2 July 2012.

Lai, David Chuenyan. The Forbidden City within Victoria: Myth, Symbol and Streetscape of Canada’s Earliest Chinatown. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 1991.