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Lee Yau Kain (Li Youqin)

Lee Yau Kain (Li Youqin) was one of several leading Chinese merchants in Victoria who came from the Lee lineage of Taishan county near Canton. He first operated his family business in Portland, Oregon, in the early 1850s. In the 1860s, he moved from Portland to Victoria and founded the Kwong On Lung (Guang’anlong) Company as one of the largest Chinese businesses in this city. He also became a leader in the Chinese fight against racial discrimination. In 1878, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia enacted the Chinese Tax Act, which would impose a $40 head tax on every Chinese in the province, but this move failed because Lee Yau Kain and other local Chinese merchants successfully persuaded the Chinese ambassador in England, Guo Songtao, to launch a protest to the British Government. When the Canadian government was ready to impose a $50 head tax on every Chinese immigrant in 1884, Lee Yau Kain again led a local Chinese petition to Huang Zunxian (Huang Tsim Hsim), Qing China’s consul-general in San Francisco, requesting permission to establish the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association for the purpose of fighting against this racist policy. He also led an appeal to all Chinese immigrants in Canada to raise funds for the legal battle against the head tax. As a result, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association came into being in Victoria in 1884, and Lee Yau Kain became its first president. He served as the president of this Chinese community organization in 1884-1885 and again in 1887 until he passed away in that year.

By Zhongping Chen


Lai, David Chuenyan. Chinese Community Leadership: Case Study of Victoria in
. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 2010.

Li Donghai (David T. H. Lee). “Jianada Li-shi xianxian xiaozhuan” (Brief biographies of the Lee pioneers in Canada). In Quan-Jia Li-shi disanjie kenqin dahui jinian tekan (Proceedings of the third meeting of the Lee lineage in Canada). Cloverdale, B.C., 1986: 47-50.